An unprecedented, massive power grid failure hit Argentina, Uruguay and parts of Paraguay, Chile and Brazil on June 16, 2019, leaving nearly 50 million people without power. This is the first time in history that entire Argentina (population 44 million) and Uruguay (population 3.4 million) were left without power. Paraguay, Chile and Brazil reported only short, localized power losses.
The failure took place at 10:06 UTC after ‘a massive failure in the electrical interconnection system’ in Argentina. The country’s Energy Minister said the outage took place automatically to ‘protect the system.’
“We don’t have any 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,” Argentina’s Energy Ministry Gustavo Lopetegui said told reporters.
While the exact cause of the failure is still unknown, power was restored to 77% of Argentina by 22:00 UTC and 88% of Uruguay by the end of the day.
Uruguay’s state power company UTE said the blackout was caused by a ‘flaw in the Argentine network.’ An independent energy expert in Argentina said the collapse was related to systematic operational and design errors.
“Everything came to a halt. Elevators, water pumps, everything. We were left adrift,” one Buenos Aires resident told the BBC.