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Traffic chaos, stopped metro, broken elevators… Ecuador suffered from a general power outage

Traffic chaos, stopped metro, broken elevators… Ecuador suffered from a general power outage

Traffic chaos, stopped metro, broken elevators… Ecuador suffered from a general power outage

Panic in Ecuador. There was a nationwide power outage on Wednesday afternoon due to a network failure, causing a scene of “chaos”, with the government blaming a lack of past investment in dilapidated facilities. The blackout began at 15:17 (22:17 in Paris) and power gradually returned and was “restored to 95% (3,500 MW)” across the country three hours later, Energy Minister Roberto Luque said.

The subway was paralyzed, requiring the evacuation of thousands of passengers, sometimes on the tracks but apparently calmly, according to video broadcast by media. “There was a failure in the network that caused cascading blackouts, so there is no electricity throughout the country,” he first said in the afternoon on the social network X (formerly Twitter), without giving further explanation.

Consequences of “underinvestment”

“We are concentrating all our efforts on resolving the problem as quickly as possible,” he added. Three hours later, at 6:41 pm local time (1:41 am Paris time), power supply was “restored to 95% (3,500 MW)” nationally, the minister said, citing supporting charts. It was “the failure of the Milagro Joray power line (which) caused blackout in the national system,” he said. “There has been a lack of investment in these electricity systems and networks for many years, and today we are suffering the consequences,” the minister explained.

The reduction surprised Ecuadorians, especially residents of the capital Quito and metro users. Power was restored gradually, from one area to another, within an hour of the blackout, at least in Quito, a city of about three million people, AFP said.

“The national closure has affected the ENTIRE capital,” commented X its mayor, Pabel Muñoz. “This incident must be very important since it affected even the electricity of the Quito metro, which uses an autonomous system,” he alarmed, declaring that he ordered “the activation of all response teams of the Municipality of Quito to promote mobility, prevent accidents at major intersections and manage public spaces.”

Municipal workers were rushed to road junctions amid the chaos when traffic lights were not working. The local press also spoke of “traffic chaos” at congested intersections.

Similar traffic chaos was seen in the major port city of Guayaquil on the Pacific coast, according to an AFP correspondent, who reported that scores of people were stuck in broken elevators in major office and residential buildings. Back in Guayaquil, the company responsible for managing drinking water urged the population to “take action and stock up” on water in anticipation of a return to normal life.

Suspension of classes “in all educational institutions”

The tram in the southern city of Cuenca also stopped running. In Quito, the Internet was also temporarily cut off, AFP noted, and cell phone networks were periodically cut off, according to press reports.

“Due to the nationwide power outage and to ensure the safety of the educational community, classes are suspended in all educational institutions,” both public and private, the Ministry of Education said.

Minister Roberto Luque did not specify the scale of the accident or the possible casualties that the incident could cause. “This event is a REAL reflection of the energy crisis we are experiencing, with lack of investment in generation (which happened in April), lack of investment in transmission (which happened today) and in distribution,” he simply commented after the blackout.

Ecuador experienced planned power outages lasting up to 13 hours in April due to prolonged drought, depleted hydroelectric power and dilapidated infrastructure, according to authorities. Logging stopped in May with the return of rains. The country has also been plunged into a serious security crisis since January, facing violence from drug trafficking and criminal gangs, against which President Daniel Noboa, elected for an 18-month term in late 2023, has declared “war.”

Source: Le Parisien

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