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Brazil officials struggle to restore power in northern state

November 23, 2020 GMT

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s government is still struggling to fully restore power in the Amazonian state of Amapa, where hundreds of thousands of people have had intermittent electrical service for three weeks.

Several power lines in the state suffered new explosions on Saturday night, according to images shown on social networks, hours after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited Amapa to inaugurate two new generators meant to help solve the problem.

The power distribution company reported Monday that electrical power was still being rationed for most of the state’s more than 800,000 people.

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The crisis began on Nov. 3 when a transformer caught fire for unknown causes in the capital, Macapa. Power was partially restored four days later, but 13 of the state’s16 cities still operate on a scheme of three hours with power, then three hours without.

Officials initially promised to have power fully restored by about Nov. 16. But on Saturday, they said said it should be back by Thursday.

Lawyer Helio de Souza Pinto said that the lights remained off in his Perpetuo Socorro neighborhood in Macapa even at times when officials said it should be receiving power.

“The problem is not just energy, but water has been lacking every day,” Castro told The Associated Press.

The problem prompted authorities to suspend municipal elections that had been scheduled for Nov. 15 and people in the state capital have reported customers lining up outside markets to buy items such as water and candles.

“Amapa is seen as the outer limits of Brazil,” complained Dorica Almeida, 58, who lives in the Laguinho neighborhood in Macapa, speaking by phone. “If this had happened in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, they would have solved it in less than a day ”.