• June 15, 2021

Exclusive: Explosion knocks out power to more than 2 million people in Puerto Rico

 Exclusive: Explosion knocks out power to more than 2 million people in Puerto Rico


I only saw one tweet replying to a news report noting this:

Using “700,000” does not have the same visceral impact as “more than two million,” which is probably why LUMA Energy, and the Puerto Rican government who gave them the contract, would prefer that framing. However, that does not excuse reporters for reinforcing this perception.

As with past blackouts on the island, reporters have depended on users of social media to report what is going on in their neighborhoods and homes.

Primera Hora reported this:

Entre los municipios con sectores sin luz -reportados por los usuarios de las redes sociales- se encuentran: San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Dorado, Vega Alta, Carolina, Bayamón, Fajardo, Toa Alta, Loíza, Caguas, Culebra, Guaynabo, Naranjito y Canóvanas, entre otros.

Translation: Among the municipalities with sectors without electricity -reported by users of social networks- are: San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Dorado, Vega Alta, Carolina, Bayamón, Fajardo, Toa Alta, Loíza, Caguas, Culebra, Guaynabo, Naranjito and Canóvanas, among others.

The LUMA outage map, as of this 5:30 Thursday morning, reported “45,000 clients” without power, which they posted to their Twitter account. 

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Here are some of the reports posted to Twitter when the news broke:

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Dánica Coto, reporting for the Associated Press, spoke with the mayor of San Sebastián:

“This has turned into chaos,” said Javier Jiménez, mayor of the western town of San Sebastián, which had established its own brigade of workers to make repairs after Hurricane Maria largely destroyed the U.S. territory’s electrical grid in 2017, leaving some people without electricity for nearly a year.

Jiménez said he was forced to activate that brigade once again this week because Luma Energy, which took over the transmission and distribution system of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority on June 1, told him it did not have enough manpower to restore electricity to the more than 1,000 families left in the dark over the weekend in his town.

“I could not believe it,” he said. “A company that has been here just days…”

Jiménez also noted that Puerto Ricans have complained that when they call the company, they are placed on hold for hours with no response.

Since the government in power negotiated and signed a contract to privatize Puerto Rico’s power grid, there have been ongoing protests on the island and here on the mainland.

Unfortunately, some clickbait headlines linked a LUMA reported story about denial of service attacks to the explosion and outages, with no evidence of a connection, like this story from NPR. Yet in the story:

The fire and blackout were not the only crises facing Luma on Thursday.

Earlier that day, the company announced its client portal and mobile app fell victim to a cyber attack that disrupted customer access to its online services.

The DDoS attack, or distributed denial of service attack, generated 2 million visits per second to the client portal and mobile app, impacting many customers’ ability to access account information, according to Luma.

The company said in a statement that it “regrets that its customers experienced the inconvenience the attack may have caused and looks forward to continuing to provide them with an exceptional customer service experience.”

It’s unclear if the fire and DDoS attack are connected.

There were many more, like this one:

I have not found an official statement yet, from the FBI.

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Stay tuned, I’ll update when more news becomes available.





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