HAVANA, Cuba – A widespread power failure on Sunday night plunged millions of people across western Cuba into darkness.
According to reuters, electricity went out from the city of Ciego de Avila in southeastern Cuba all the way to Havana, 250 miles (400 km) to the northwest, and beyond to the westernmost province of Pinar del Rio.
Phone calls around the island indicated power was returning in many areas, but not yet in the Cuban capital, which is the Communist country’s biggest city with 2.2 million people.
There were unconfirmed reports that the outage was caused by the failure of a generating plant in Cienfuegos on Cuba’s southern coast.
Reuters reports, that in Havana, street and traffic lights were out across the city, causing police officials to call in off-duty officers to direct traffic.
Weather on the island was clear and calm. No one at the state-owned electrical company could immediately be reached to explain the outage.
Blackouts are not uncommon in Cuba, due to its aging electrical system. But this one was more extensive than usual and reminded some of the 1990s when the country was short of energy and outages were a daily occurrence.
The shortages of the 1990s followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s top benefactor. The government called that era the “Special Period.”
“We have candles lit. It’s more or less like the Special Period, except in those days, blackouts were so common we had lanterns with kerosene. We don’t have that now,” Rosanna Garza said in her Havana home.