Work under way to restore power after Argentina and Uruguay hit by major failure

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A sign which usually displays the price of gas electronically stands without power during a blackout in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Tomas F Cuesta/AP)

Argentina’s main energy company has said it is “slowly beginning to restore” electricity after a massive power failure left large swathes of the South American country and neighbouring Uruguay in the dark.

More than 44 million people were left without electricity across the two countries on Sunday.

Writing on Twitter, Edesur said power had been returned to 34,000 customers as of Sunday morning.

An employee stands in the closed entrance of the Buenos Aires underground railway system during the blackout
An employee stands in the closed entrance of the Buenos Aires underground railway system (Tomas F Cuesta/AP)

The company said: “The return of electricity generation to the interconnected system of the Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires has begun.”

It noted the process would take several hours.

Uruguayan energy company UTE tweeted that the system was being reinstated from scratch.

“There are already coastal cities with service and work continues toward general restoration,” it said.

A man stands inside a shop without power
A man stands inside a shop without power (Tomas F Cuesta/AP)

It added that the blackout was due to a “flaw in the Argentine network” which left the entire country and several regions of Uruguay without electricity.

Argentina’s energy secretary said the blackout happened around 7am local time, when a key interconnection system collapsed.

It said the causes “are being investigated and are not yet determined”.

The blackout affected the entire Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, in addition to provinces in the north and south.

Since taking office, Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri has said that gradual austerity measures were needed to revive the country’s struggling economy.

He has cut red tape and tried to reduce the government’s budget deficit by ordering job cuts and cutting utility subsidies.

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