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Argentina, Uruguay restore power after massive blackout

Electricity services have been restored to all of Argentina and Uruguay following a massive blackout that left around 48 million people without power on Sunday, authorities said.

The cut, which began just after 7:00 am, also caused short, localized losses of power in Paraguay, but didn’t impact Tierra del Fuego in Argentina’s extreme south because the region is not part of the national system.

The episode was the first time a power cut had affected the majority of Argentina, with a population of more than 44 million, and the entirety of Uruguay, which has 3.4 million inhabitants.

“These are failures that occur (even) with diligence. The amazing thing is the chain of events that took place to cause the total disconnection,” Argentina’s Energy Ministry Gustavo Lopetegui told a press conference.

He said the outage took place “automatically to protect the system.”

“We don’t have any more information right now on how it occurred. We’re not ruling out any possibility, but a cyber attack is not among the main alternatives being considered.”

Hospitals, clinics on generators

Argentina’s energy secretariat had earlier said the “interconnection system” had “collapsed,” producing “a massive power cut” for which its generators had been unable to compensate, but that the causes had not been determined.

Sources from the official energy agency of Paraguay, which borders Argentina to the northeast, told AFP that cuts there had been “momentary.”

A spokesperson for RGE, the biggest energy distributor in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state that borders both Argentina and Uruguay, said they’d had no reports of cuts.

Earlier in the day, power had returned to some sectors of Buenos Aires but the metro and trains were still halted.

Public hospitals and private clinics were running on generators.

“The only inconvenience is the elevators. We only have one working, but all services are operating without problems,” said an employee at the Fernandez Hospital.

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