Venezuela was almost entirely without power on Friday morning amid a blackout that the Maduro government blamed on sabotage and which wrought chaos across much of the country.
Communications went down, water pumps failed and transport ground to a halt as Venezuela was plunged into darkness at around 5pm local time (9pm UK) on Thursday night. The power cut was believed to have hit up to 23 of the country’s 24 states, though with mobile networks and internet largely out of action, the situation in some areas was unclear.
In Caracas and elsewhere, workers were forced to walk miles to get home as the lights went out in the oil-rich South American nation. There were reports of life support machines and other essential medical equipment failing at hospitals without back-up generators. In the capital, municipal officials said they had attended emergency calls from residents reliant on oxygen machines.
School and labour activities were suspended, businesses were shuttered and many Venezuelans were virtually stranded in their homes. There was no word as to when the power cut might end, with fears that it could last for days – a daunting prospect for Venezuelans already struggling to survive amid punishing shortages of food, medicine and cash.