Venezuela hit by five-hour blackout amid 'total collapse'

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Venezuelan power utility Corpoelec said it restored electricity to 100% of its customers after a transmission fault caused widespread blackouts on Monday.

The disruption left parts of the capital Caracas and nearby states Miranda and Vargas without electricity for up to five hours.

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Authorities said that telecommunication networks, the Caracas metro and the Maiquetía international airport were also affected.

According to electric power minister Luiz Motta Domínguez (pictured), the problem was caused by a cable defect in a high-voltage transmission line.

"We have restored power services in greater Caracas and all other areas," Motta Domínguez told state-run television channel VTV.

Local news service Infovzla said the outage left the OPEC country's largest city in "total collapse" as businesses shut down and many workers were forced to walk home.

Power blackouts have become commonplace in Venezuela as Corpoelec, which was nationalized in 2007, suffers from years of underinvestment and mismanagement.

According to independent newspaper Efecto Cocuyo, Caracas has been hit by eight "major electricity outages" this year.

Opposition lawmaker José Guerra blamed government policies for the dire state of Venezuela's energy sector and the tanking economy.

"[The Venezuelan unit of Mexican cement maker] Cemex was expropriated and there is no cement. Oil companies were expropriated and there is no gasoline or lubricants. Farms were expropriated and there is no food. Electricity in Caracas was expropriated and there is no electricity. Now they blame imperialism. They never assume their failure," Guerra wrote on Twitter.

President Nicolás Maduro has accused political opponents of conspiring to "sabotage" public services. Last month he ordered the armed forces to protect power and telecommunications facilities from alleged attacks by paramilitaries and terrorists.