Venezuela suffers nationwide blackout in latest power outage

Information Minister says authorities in the process of re-establishing service after first major outage since March.

    The state-owned power company Corpolec only reported a breakdown affecting sectors of the capital, Caracas [Yuri CORTEZ/AFP]
    The state-owned power company Corpolec only reported a breakdown affecting sectors of the capital, Caracas [Yuri CORTEZ/AFP]

    Venezuela has suffered a nationwide power cut, including the capital, Caracas, which the country's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez blamed on an "electromagnetic attack".

    Rodriguez said the nationwide blackout was caused by an "electromagnetic attack" and that authorities were in the process of re-establishing service.

    The lights went out in most of Caracas at 4:41pm (20:41 GMT) while people in other parts of the country took to social media to report the power had gone out there too in the first major blackout since March.

    "These blackouts are catastrophic," said 51-year-old janitor Bernardina Guerra, who lives in Caracas. "I live in the eastern part of the city and there the lights go out every day. Each day things are worse."

    At least 14 Venezuelan states lost power on Monday, according to Reuters witnesses and reports on social media.

    The state-owned power company Corpolec only reported a breakdown affecting sectors of the capital, Caracas.

    The March blackout, the worst in decades, affected all 23 states and left millions of people without running water and telecommunications. That exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.

    "It terrifies me to think we are facing a national blackout again," said Maria Luisa Rivero, a 45-year-old business owner from the city of Valencia, in the central state of Carabobo.

    "The first thing I did was run to freeze my food so that it does not go bad like it did like the last time in March. It costs a lot to buy food just to lose it," she said.

    President Nicolas Maduro had blamed unnamed "terrorists" for that near-nationwide blackout, claiming they had attacked the Guri hydroelectric plant in the south of the country that supplies power to 80 percent of Venezuela's 30 million inhabitants.

    Another huge outage in April left large parts of the country, including Caracas, in darkness, although it lasted hours rather than days.

    Blackouts are a common occurrence in Venezuela, especially in remote western regions.

    The government usually blames them on sabotage but experts say that a lack of investment, poor management and corruption are the more likely culprits.

    The oil-rich country's hyperinflationary economic crisis has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine, prompting more than four million Venezuelans to leave the country.

    SOURCE: News agencies