A blackout hit the whole of Ecuador on Wednesday, leaving the nation of 18 million without power.

Energy Minister Roberto Luque blamed the massive outage on a incident with a transmission line in southern Ecuador which triggered a “cascading disconnection.”

The blackout was the first of its kind in 20 years and “shows how fragile our system is, and reflects the energy crisis we’re experiencing,” Luque told reporters in Guayaquil.


Some power service has already been restored around 7 p.m. local time and full service is expected to resume before midnight local time, according to the government.

Quito’s Mayor Pabel Muñoz said that the capital’s recently-inaugurated subway, which has an independent backup power supply, also stopped running.

Ecuador last suffered a series of rolling blackouts early this year amid a severe drought. Heavy rains in recent days however also forced the disconnection of the nation’s biggest hydroelectric plant because of a risk from erosion, which also led private pipeline operator Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA to shut down its pipeline and declare force majeure.

With proper investment and maintenance of transmission lines, this incident would have been avoided, Luque said. Plans to prevent a total blackout were prepared two decades ago after the previous one and never implemented, he added.


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