Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, first major outage since March
CARACAS (Reuters) - At least 14 Venezuelan states lost power on Monday, according to Reuters witnesses and reports on social media, the first nationwide blackout to include the capital Caracas since March.
Venezuela suffered a series of blackouts in March, the worst in decades, that left millions of people without running water and telecommunications. That exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.
The Information Ministry did not respond to a request to comment on the latest outage.
"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.
The oil-rich country's hyperinflationary economic crisis has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine, prompting over 4 million Venezuelans to leave the country.
Venezuela's national power grid has fallen into disrepair after years without investment and insufficient maintenance, according to the opposition and power experts.
Without providing evidence, socialist President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the blackouts on sabotage coordinated by the United States.
"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."
(Reporting by Tibisay Romero in Valencia and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; writing by Angus Berwick and Sarah Kinosian; editing by Rosalba O'Brien and G Crosse)
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.