Chaos in Caracas as power failure cripples 80% of the capital
The crisis-hit country sees major traffic jams and airports affected by the blackout; the president says the opposition is responsible for the ‘sabotage’
Caracas — As Eskom announces stage 1 load-shedding in SA, spare a thought for Venezuela where a power failure cut electricity to 80% of the capital Caracas on Tuesday, provoking transport and communications chaos, authorities said.
Electricity minister Luis Motta said the government was "working on restoring the service". The power outage sparked traffic jams in the capital where both the metro and traffic lights were affected. The Maiquetía airport serving Caracas was also impacted.
"We were stuck in immigration for about 40 minutes. There was no telephone signal or internet," Estefania Freire, who was waiting to take an international flight, told AFP.
Power cuts are a regular occurrence in crisis-hit Venezuela, in particular in the rural interior. In the western oil-rich region of Zulia, electricity is rationed with blackouts sometimes lasting up to 12 hours. Venezuela has faced food and medicine shortages resulting from a prolonged economic and political crisis, as well as the breakdown of many public services, such as electricity, water and transport.
The government of Nicolás Maduro blames the electricity problems on opposition "sabotage", claiming it is a political tactic to try to stir public discontent. Anti-Maduro protests have been widespread and the government’s violent crackdown has prompted international condemnation. Last year, about 125 people were killed in clashes with security forces.