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North, Northeast Brazil Hit by Massive Power Outage

FILE - An aerial photograph shows the construction site of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam at Pimental, near Altamira in Para State, Nov. 15, 2012. A test failure Wednesday in a transmission line connecting to the Belo Monte dam reportedly caused a power outage in Brazil.

Large swaths of Brazil's north and northeast suffered a power outage Wednesday, the operator of the nation's grid said, affecting tens of millions of consumers and 22.5 percent of total output, or 18,000 megawatts.

Lower house member Jose Carlos Aleluia, a former head of one of state-owned power utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA's units, said on Twitter the outage was caused by a test failure in a transmission line connecting to the Belo Monte dam.

Eletrobras, as the utility is known, and China's State Grid Corp, which operate the transmission line, did not respond to requests for comment.