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2 Mar, 2023 10:34

South American nation hit by massive blackout

Outages covered more than half of Argentina after a fire disrupted a major power line
South American nation hit by massive blackout

Millions of Argentinians were plunged into darkness on Wednesday as large parts of the country, including its capital, suffered a massive blackout caused by a fire on a crucial power line. Argentina has been reeling from a heatwave, with temperatures consistently rising above 35C (95F).

According to the Ministry of Energy, the nation’s interconnected electricity system endured “several failures,” with power outages registered in the central region. It noted that the provinces of Santa Fe, Cordoba, Mendoza, San Juan, and others had also been affected.

The outage was caused by a fire “in the 500 kv High Voltage Line that connects the towns of Campana and General Rodriguez,” both near the capital city of Buenos Aires, the ministry added.

The blackout in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area occurred after the Atucha nuclear power plant went offline, according to the statement. In a subsequent Twitter post, the ministry said that the power plant did not experience any problems but was put out of operation “for safety reasons.” 

According to local media reports, more than 20 million people and some 6 million households were left without power.

The first reports of outages came at around 4:00-5:00pm local time on Wednesday, with metro services in Buenos Aires going offline.

“Work is currently underway to restore the operation of the transmission line and to be able to start the reconnection in areas without supply,” the Ministry of Energy said.

Commenting on the reasons for the outage, Argentina’s undersecretary for energy, Santiago Yanotti, told the C5N network that power demand across the country had increased due to the high temperatures.

Outages are not uncommon for the region, with parts of Argentina and neighboring Uruguay suffering from an “unprecedented” blackout in 2019 that affected tens of million people due to a failure between two power stations.