HAVANA (AP) — Power failed across a large swath of western Cuba on Sunday night, plunging millions of people into darkness including those in the capital of Havana and at the popular bearch resort of Varadero.
The outage knocked out air-conditioning units and electric fans on a sweltering late-summer Caribbean night. Other cities in central and eastern Cuba also had outages, but for only brief spans.
“We were on our balcony waiting for our TV program,” said Richard laredo, a 47-year-old Havana resident who quickly transferred food from the refrigerator to the freezer. “Nobody knows what happened, but people are worried about what they have in their refrigerators.”
There was no immediate word on what caused the blackout, which struck a little after 8 p.m. in the middle of the nightly news on state television and was still out more than two hours later.
State radio made no mention of the power failure, and calls to the power system’s headquarters met busy signals. Officials in the national government said they were not able to offer an explanation.
In the capital, the lights were out in a 24-mile-wide (40-kilometer) stretch from Havana’s western residential neighborhoods across the city’s center and Old Havana district and on to suburbs on the other side of the bay. In the Vedado entertainment and business district, the only buildings with visible light were tourist hotels and upscale apartment towers, which have backup generators.
Problems extended well beyond Havana’s city limits.
The lights were out in the popular tourist resort of Varadero.
“We are on our generators, but our guests are not having any problems,” said a receptionist who answered the phone at the Arenas Doradas hotel in Varadero but would not give her full name.
Outages that began at the same time as Havana’s were reported as far away as Santiago, the nation’s second-largest metropolis about 475 miles (740 kilometers) away at the other end of the island. The power in Santiago returned after only a few minutes, however.
Electricity was out for about 20 minutes in the central cities of Ciego do Avila and Villa Clara. The western city of Pinar del Rio was also without power.
Big blackouts were common in Havana in the 1990s when Cuba was dealing with an energy crisis, and again in the middle of the last decade.
Isolated outages still hit the city on occasion, but citywide blackouts have become rare for Havana’s 2 million residents.
Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.
Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter:
Official Wire and AP
Click To Contact Through Email