Ecuador has been hit by a nationwide blackout, a senior government minister has said, leaving some 18 million people in the dark.

Public Works Minister Roberto Luque blamed the power cut on the breakdown of a transmission line.

The subway system in the capital, Quito, ground to a halt and traffic lights stopped working around mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

Authorities said they are concentrating all efforts on fixing the problem as quickly as possible.

“There is a failure in the transmission line that caused a chain of disconnections, so there’s no electricity nationwide,” Mr Luque, who is also acting energy minister, posted on X.

“The incident must have been major because it even knocked out power to the metro, which has its own separate system,” Quito Mayor Pabel Muñoz said on X.

The Quito Metro said that services were interrupted “due to a general failure of the national interconnected electrical energy system”.

In April, a drought forced the government to announce a series of planned blackouts that left major cities without power for hours on end.

Most of the country’s energy comes from neighbouring Colombia.

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