Explosion at Puerto Rico power substation triggers blackout | News | DW | 12.02.2018
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Explosion at Puerto Rico power substation triggers blackout

An explosion at Puerto Rico's main power substation has left thousands of people without electricity and taken two other power units offline. The US territory is still reeling from the last year's Hurricane Maria.

Little girl holds a lantern in a dark room in Puerto Rico in December 2017 (picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Giusti)

Many households in Puerto Rico have been without power for months, as shown in this photo from December 2017

Parts of Puerto Rico capital San Juan were left without electricity as the island's main power substation caught fire late on Sunday. Residents from other parts of the US territory also reported power loss. Twitter user Katja A Torres Ortiz from Rio Piedras posted an image of the substation online.

Witnesses described a loud explosion at the Monacillos facility which sent flames and smoke high into the air and knocked out two other substations in an apparent chain reaction. The fire was later extinguished.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto said that no injuries have been reported.

Read more: Private companies help Puerto Rico while America is slow to offer aid

The island's power company AEE said that they were working to restore power "as quickly as possible." The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

The latest setback comes as Puerto Rico is struggling to repair the damage from the Hurricane Maria which swept across the island in September 2017. The deadly storm devastated the outdated power grid in the US territory which boasts a population of 3.4 million people. Even five months after the event, 400,000 households and facilities are without power. Local news outlet Noti Uno 630 shared a video from the scene.

Recently, Puerto Rico's governor announced plans to privatize the island's power company, which is burdened by a $9 billion (€7.3 billion) debt.  The company is said to rely on equipment which is nearly three times older than the industry average.

dj/jm (AP, EFE)

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