MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities announced Tuesday that rolling blackouts hit 12 states covering more than one-third of the country, extending the power cuts from northern Mexico into the central part of the nation as hundreds of factories were forced to shut down.

The announcement by the National Energy Control office marked the third day that winter storms in Texas cut the supply of imported natural gas on which northern Mexico depends for generating much if its electricity.

Blackouts on Monday hit 5.9 million households and businesses in 23 states, while the rolling blackouts Tuesday hit all but six states, affecting 8% of all the country’s customers. On Tuesday, 540,000 customers in the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas were without power for extended periods.

Authorities said they were trying to keep the rolling blackouts to 15 to 30 minutes apiece, but also said they would be random and thus unpredictable.

The export-oriented National Council of the Maquiladora Industry said hundreds of plants — perhaps as many as 1,600 — were shutting down due to the lack of power, throwing hundreds of thousands out of work.

The council complained that authorities were announcing the blackouts over Twitter with no warning or coordination. Council president Luis Hernandez called for organizing the blackouts, perhaps as predictable time blocks so industries could at least plan shutdowns.

“You can’t just be telling people, ‘Look on Twitter,’” he said.

Rosalinda Torres, head of the maquiladora council in the border city of Matamoros, said all the factories there were closed.

“The losses are going to run into the millions,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the full Associated Press story.

Editor’s Note: The main photo accompanying the above news clip shows a satellite image of the current winter storm. (Photo: El Centro Nacional de Advertencia de Huracanes)