Published: Sat, March 09, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Venezuelan minister describes large-scale blackout as act of aggression

Venezuelan minister describes large-scale blackout as act of aggression

Power returned to some parts of the capital of Caracas during the afternoon but quickly cut out again, according to witnesses and local media.

Venezuela was abruptly thrust into total darkness Thursday night as power grids failed across the troubled country, with a crippling blackout impacting 22 out of the nation's 23 states including the capital Caracas.

Venezuelans are wearily accustomed to blackouts.

Venezuela was nearly entirely without power on Friday morning amid a blackout that the Maduro government blamed on sabotage and which wrought chaos across much of the country.

Wiping away tears, he described how his niece had been brought to the bottom of the 11-story Caracas hospital on a stretcher after the elevators stopped working. Venezuelans with chronic conditions liked diabetes searched for ice to preserve their limited supplies of medicines.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro is wrong to blame the U.S. or any other country for Venezuela's woes.

More than 3 million people are believed to have left Venezuela amid the crisis.

Lugo said another patient had died in the parking lot in the chaos of the blackout, as people "tried to get sick people out of here and move them to other places where they had generators and equipment that would work".

Hospitals had reported bad problems and those with generators were using them only in emergencies.

However, outside the hospital, Carlos Ramos, a Caracas resident, who was stood outside the hospital with medical staff and patients in the hope of seeing a doctor, rejected the government's claims sabotage, saying: "They always say that".

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Clinics in the sweltering western state of Zulia, which suffers chronic regional blackouts, had scaled back operations after almost 72 hours without power. Traffic lights in several neighborhoods were back on, while at one office building the electricity flickered to life and then turned off.

Guaido tweeted that Venezuela has plenty of hydroelectric plants and more.

The Maduro government is becoming increasingly isolated as more and more countries blame it for the economic crisis, which has prompted more than three million people to leave Venezuela.

He has been recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries but Mr Maduro retains the support of his close allies Russia, Cuba and China, among others.

He tweeted: "The electricity war declared and directed by the imperialist United States against our people will be overcome! Patriots, unite!" Maduro wrote on Twitter.

Some parts of Caracas and the rest of the country have had their electricity supply restored and Venezuelans are now bracing themselves for a weekend of pro and anti-government protests.

State-owned electricity operator Corpoelec blamed the outage on what it called an "attack" on the Guri Dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric stations and the cornerstone of Venezuela's electrical grid. His information minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said right-wing extremists intent on creating pandemonium by leaving the South American nation without power for several days were behind the blackout, but he offered no proof.

"By attacking the automated control system, the machines stop as a protective mechanism", he said.

President Donald Trump placed sanctions on USA assets controlled by PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, on January 28.

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