South American country Ecuador was hit with a nationwide power outage on Wednesday.

“The immediate report that we received from CENACE is that there is a failure in the transmission line that caused a cascade disconnection, so there is no energy service on a national scale. We are concentrating all our efforts on resolving the problem as quickly as possible,” Public Works Minister Roberto Luque said.

“At 3:17 p.m. there was a failure of the Milagro Zhoray Transmission Line that generated a ‘blackout’ to the national system. This event is A TRUE REFLECTION OF THE ENERGY CRISIS that we are experiencing, with lack of investment in generation (what happened in April), lack of investment in transmission (what happened today) and in distribution. For years we have stopped investing in these systems and today we are experiencing the consequences,” he said.

“With a cutoff at 6:41 p.m., the situation is that on a national scale, 95% of the energy has already been restored (3,500 MW),” he added.

“Luque also serves as the country’s acting energy minister,” NBC News noted.

Per NBC News:

A Reuters witness said there was confusion on the streets of Quito, the capital, as traffic lights ceased working.

Operations of Quito’s subway system have also ground to a halt.

“Due to a general failure of the national interconnected electrical energy system, the operation of the Quito Metro is interrupted while the systems are restarted and verified,” the metro system said on X.

In April, Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa declared an energy emergency and announced planned electricity cuts.

While the South American country has struggled with a drought affecting hydro-electricity power generation, heavy rains over the weekend forced authorities to take three hydroelectric plants offline.

The weekend rains provoked a landslide that killed at least 17 people and left 19 others injured. The disaster prompted Ecuador’s private OCP oil pipeline to suspend operations and declare force majeure.

From The Guardian:

Emilia Cevallos, a waitress in a restaurant north of the capital, Quito, said the blackout was surprising.

“We thought it was only in this sector, but when we left we realised that while some stores had connected generators, the majority did not have electricity,” she said. “The traffic lights were not working either.”

Wednesday’s outage caused dangerous driving conditions for scores of motorists, as traffic lights ceased working. Operations of Quito’s subway were also interrupted for several hours.

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