Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Puerto Rico faces blackout after cyberattack and fire | US & Canada News

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Thousands of people were left in the dark after the incidents, although it was unclear if they were linked.

A fire at an electrical substation left hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans in the dark Thursday, shortly after the power company reported a cyber attack that it did not immediately link to the fire.

Luma Energy confirmed the fire at a facility in the capital San Juan two hours after saying it had been the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that prevented customers from accessing their accounts.

“The fire caused major blackouts across the island,” the company said on Facebook.

Luma Energy is a new utility company on the Caribbean island that will begin operating on June 1 to improve the electricity transmission system in the United States.

People are seen walking on a street left in darkness by a power outage in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico [File: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP]

The company’s chief executive, Wayne Stensby, said around 700,000 customers were in the dark, local newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported. He added that it would take overnight to restore service.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed large flames and black smoke above the substation.

“All the resources of the PR government are available to handle the emergency caused by the fire at the Monacillos substation,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi tweeted. “The firefighters have already arrived at the scene.”

Pierluisi said in a later statement that state and federal legal authorities were “investigating the substation explosion.”

He added that whoever was “responsible for it will be accountable to the people of Puerto Rico.”

Authorities did not say whether they were investigating a link between the fire and the cyber attack.

A man fills containers with gasoline in San Juan, Puerto Rico [Ricardo Arduengo/AFP]

Jenniffer Gonz√°lez, who represents Puerto Rico in the United States Congress, promised an investigation.

“The fire in Monacillos, the blackout for more than half a million inhabitants, sectors without electricity for a week do not seem like isolated events,” he said, referring to recent episodes in Puerto Rico.

“I have alerted federal law enforcement agencies to investigate each event. They hurt people, who are suffering.”

Luma Energy is jointly owned by North American parent companies ATCO and Quanta.

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