Heavy rain and strong wind last night caused blackouts that left nearly a third of Brazilians—60 million people—in the dark, officials said today as they scrambled to restore confidence in the country's infrastructure before soccer's 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The weather made transformers on a vital high-voltage transmission line short-circuit, and two other lines also went down as part of an automatic safety mechanism.
The blackout cut electricity to 18 of Brazil's 26 states and left them without power for up to four hours. The federal district that includes the national capital of Brasilia was spared. About 7 million people also lost water service in Sao Paulo. All of Paraguay briefly lost power. The massive Itaipu dam on the border with Paraguay—the world's second-largest hydroelectric power producer—was completely shut down for the first time in its 25-year history.