World

Central America hit by massive blackout

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA: A huge power outage plunged millions of people across Central America into darkness on Saturday, as authorities from Panama to Costa Rica to El Salvador scrambled to restore electrical service.

The blackout affected some five million people in Costa Rica alone, where officials largely managed to restore service after about five hours.

Authorities pinned blame for the outages on a downed Panamanian transmission line that adversely affected the power supply for much of the region.

Countries in the region, from Guatemala to Panama, are connected by the same power grid, covering an expanse of some 1,770km.

But that interconnectedness means that the countries of Central America are vulnerable when there are power grid malfunctions in any one.

Chaos reigned in the Costa Rican capital after traffic lights ceased to function, while the main airport in San Jose had to run on back-up power until the power system was up and running again.

In Panama, much of the power was restored about three hours after the blackout started, officials said. - AFP

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