Puerto Rico hit with partial blackout after power plant explosion

Ambulances arrive at the main substation in northern Puerto Rico after an explosion caused blackouts on Sunday

Ambulances arrive at the main substation in northern Puerto Rico after an explosion caused blackouts on Sunday

Power had returned to Puerto Rico's largest public hospital and its main worldwide airport.

An explosion Sunday at a main substation in northern Puerto Rico triggered a blackout in an area beset by power woes since a monster hurricane plunged the island into darkness five months ago.

Quinones said he could not provide any numbers on how many customers remained without power as a result of Sunday's outage, which affected the island's northern region.

In many cases, power workers are repairing equipment that should have always been replaced but remained online due to the power authority's long financial crisis.

PREPA officials told CNN that the fire had been caused by a mechanical failure. The state-owned power company is worth roughly $4 billion, carries $9 billion in debt and has always been criticized for political patronage and inefficiency.

The power authority said the island lost at least 400 megawatts worth of power generation.

The cause of the blast remains unknown but no injuries were reported
The cause of the blast remains unknown but no injuries were reported

Heavy black smoke billowed from the substation as neighbors in the area described on social media seeing the sky turn orange following a loud explosion.

Ambulances are seen at the entrance of an electric substation in Monacillo, on the outskirts of San Juan, Puerto Rico, after an explosion and fire was reported on February 11.

The latest setback comes as Puerto Rico is struggling to fix the damage from the Hurricane Maria which swept across the island in September 2017.

Puerto Rico's governor recently announced that he plans to privatize the state-owned power company, which is $9 billion in debt and relying on infrastructure almost three times older than the industry average.

That came after Rosselló asked the Justice Department to investigate the utility "after federal agents said they found large quantities of critical rebuilding materials stored in a warehouse owned by the public company".

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