Authorities said a massive power outage affected millions of Argentines in several provinces and parts of Buenos Aires for at least two hours on Wednesday afternoon, related to a fire near high-voltage lines, amid a heat wave.
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Media reported the first outage between 4:00pm and 5:00pm (local time), with traffic lights out of order, neighborhoods in Buenos Aires without power and many metro stations plunged into darkness, AFP journalists noted.
“The power outage is huge, it affects several provinces. In times of high heat like today in much of the country, the power sector has been called to the tune of 25,000 megawatts and removed the cutoff of about 9,000 megawatts,” Undersecretary of Energy Santiago Iannotti said on channel C5N.
The source of the cut would be a fire that broke out in a field 60 kilometers from Buenos Aires, near the high-voltage lines, connected to the nearby Atocha 1 nuclear power plant, according to Mr. Iannotti.
“Because of this external problem, Atucha 1 has been decommissioned, in safe shutdown mode,” Nucleoelectrica said. This, in turn, affected the supply of large areas of the country.
A government source told AFP that no official figures were initially available on the number of families affected, but that central and northwestern provinces such as Cordoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza and parts of Buenos Aires province were affected.
Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza and Aeropark airports have seen “bits,” this source said, without their service being disrupted.
In the capital, light was restored around 6pm on the metro and services gradually resumed.
“The network is recovering little by little and we hope that electric service will be back in a few hours,” emphasized Mr. Yanotti.
The incident comes against the backdrop of the ninth heat wave this summer in Argentina, such as 36 degrees on Wednesday in Buenos Aires. The capital is experiencing the hottest summer in its history, according to the meteorological service.
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