News

Puerto Rico just got hit with the biggest blackout in American history

1.4 million-plus customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority are without electricity
April 18, 2018, 9:05pm

Puerto Rico is in the dark again.

The largest blackout in American history hit the U.S. territory Wednesday, as the entire island lost power — seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated its infrastructure and knocked out the power grid.

A fault on a transmission line caused the outage, which left 1.4 million-plus customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority without electricity, according to NPR. Power will likely return in about 24 to 36 hours, officials told the Associated Press. In the meantime, the power authority’s customer service center is also down.

This outage, which CNN says is also the second-largest in world history, marks the second on the island in less than a week: On Thursday, more than 840,000 customers lost power after a tree fell on a transmission line.

READ: Delivering babies and saving lives in Puerto Rico after Maria

About 40,000 customers have gone without regular electricity since Hurricane Maria hit on Sept. 27 and destroyed large swaths of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, including 80 percent of the island’s power lines, according to the New York Times. Puerto Rico was already operating on infrastructure that’s about three decades older than the industry standard, thanks to the island’s ongoing debt crisis.

Still, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid following Maria, decided in February to start withdrawing its contractors from the island. (A number of contractors remain on the island continuing to help rebuild, but the grid is still unstable.)

Puerto Rico’s largest hospital and airport remain up and running thanks to back-up generators. A Major League Baseball game scheduled between the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians will also go on as planned at San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said.

“This is too much,” Luis Oscar Rivera, whose home just got regular power less than two months ago, told the Associated Press. “It’s like the first day of Maria all over again.”

Cover image: Angel Rodriguez Negron fills his gasoline container at a gas station while others line up behind him, after a general power outage in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

This article originally appeared on VICE News US.