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Brazil hit by new blackout, infrastructure in spotlight

posted 26 Oct 2012, 12:14 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 26 Oct 2012, 12:15 ]

Brazil's north and northeastern regions are hit by a massive blackout, leaving over 50 million in the dark.

BAHIABRAZIL (OCTOBER 26, 2012)  (TV GLOBO) -  A massive blackout left as many as 53 million Brazilians in the dark late Thursday and early Friday, the latest in a string of energy shortages that have raised questions about Brazil's infrastructure.

Officials said a fire in a substation in the Amazon knocked out the whole electricity grid ofnortheastern Brazil in the region's worst blackout since 2001. The outage lasted up to four hours in some places.

In the city of Recife residents were left without air conditioning in stifling heat.

The government has not yet established the causes of a series of recent blackouts that have undermined confidence in Brazil's electrical system.

The power shortages have added to concerns that the South American country will not be ready to host two major global sports events, the World Cup soccer tournament in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

The power outage, which affected 11 Brazilian states in the northern regions of the country, follows two other blackouts in as many months that affected millions of customers across the nation.

Brazil went through a so-called "blackout crisis" in 2001 and 2002 as a drought limited the output of hydroelectric dams. In response, the government forced electricity cuts in certain regions for hours at a time, severely crimping economic growth.

While Brazil has invested heavily in electricity generation since then, it still has a long way to go, with the country planning to build as many as 48 new hydroelectric plants by 2020 to keep up with the energy demands of rapid economic growth.

Energy policy has been at the forefront of government efforts to boost sluggish growth inLatin America's largest economy.