Cuba's Ministry of Energy and Mines confirmed on social media Monday that the power outage that left half the island without electricity was due to a fire in a sugar cane plantation, it was reported.
A failure in high voltage lines left the center and eastern parts of the island without electricity. According to state-owned Unión Eléctrica (UNE), 7 of Cuba's 15 provinces have been without power since past noon: from central Ciego de Avila to eastern Camagüey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguín, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo.
Energy and Mines Minister Vicente de la O Levy also explained that work was being done to reestablish the system and said it would take between 4 and 5 hours.
It was one of the largest power outages since Sept. 27, when no electricity was generated after Hurricane Ian hit the island's western part, leaving the entire country in a blackout.
Since then, blackouts have decreased noticeably, especially since the second half of December, and have remained at lower levels in the first weeks of 2023, with blackouts below 10% during peak demand hours, EFE reported.
Last year, blackouts were daily and lasted for up to 12 hours a day in some regions with almost 40% of the country affected at times, mainly due to aging terrestrial thermoelectric plants over 40 years old with little to no maintenance, in addition to a lack of fuel, which was all worsened by the country's economic crisis amid tightening US economic sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blackouts scare away tourists and also generate social discontent. In this scenario, an explosion caused by a gas leak in a central Havana hotel left one person injured on Monday, just 10 months after 47 people died in another hotel blast in Havana.
The cause of the incident was a gas leak, authorities reported about Monday's incident at the Caribbean hotel on Paseo del Prado, a major avenue in the Cuban capital.
Last May, there was a strong explosion at the five-star Saratoga Hotel on the same avenue, killing 47 people as the hotel was about to reopen following the Covid-19 lockdown.