World Bulletin / News Desk
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla on Thursday declared a state of emergency on the island due to a power outage, local media reported.
The order allows the activation of support from various agencies, including the National Guard, the Nutritional Assistance Program and other services, to address the emergency that has already claimed the life of one person, Padilla said.
A 48-year old man reportedly died after inhaling carbon monoxide from an electric generator, according to a preliminary investigation, he said.
Nearly 200,000 of 1.5 million customers had electricity restored Thursday afternoon, after the country went dark late Wednesday following a fire at a power station that knocked out the entire grid, according to officials.
Utility crews are working on to restore power as soon as possible but the government-run Power Electric Authorities (AEE) said normal service should resume sometime Friday.
AEE Director Javier Quintana said the company is integrating small units of gas turbines into the system and, barring any mishaps, more than half of the island could have power by the end of Thursday.
"As they enter the system, then we will be able to be recover a greater number of customers," Quintana said at a press conference with the island’s Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.
The power outage forced the closure of universities and public schools. It has also undermined the operations of public and private agencies and left without water service about 340,000 customers.
"All public hospitals are operational, although appointments of elective surgery and others were canceled until further notice", Padilla said.
The blackout is the worst to his Puerto Rico in 36 years.