"There's no emergency," he said.

 

It was believed to have been caused by a forest fire that overheated power lines in the central state of Guarico, the energy ministry said.

 

The lines were near the Guri hydroelectric lines in eastern Venezuela.

 

Biggest blackout

 

This led to a chain reaction of power failure during peak consumption hours.

 

Thousands of people were forced to walk home through the crime-ridden capital.

 

Generators were used in the presidential palace and hospitals, and minor delays occurred at the national airport.

 

The country's oil industry was said to be unaffected.

 

Venezuela suffers small-scale power shortages at times in rural areas, but Caracas is usually unaffected.

 

Tuesday's blackout was the largest in the country for years.