Venezuela crisis: Fresh power cuts black out Caracas

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Passengers are seen during a blackout at Simon Bolivar international airport in Caracas, Venezuela March 25, 20Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Simon Bolivar international airport in Caracas was hit by the loss of power

A second major power cut in just a few hours has plunged the Venezuelan capital Caracas into darkness again, with other regions also affected.

It came after a four-hour blackout on Monday which the government sought to blame on opposition sabotage.

A nationwide power cut earlier this month prompted looting and desperation in many parts of the country.

The opposition blames the power cuts on two decades of underinvestment and corruption by the socialist government.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has been locked in a power struggle with the government of President Nicolás Maduro, which is grappling with a severe economic crisis.

Last week, Mr Guaidó's chief of staff was arrested on terrorism charges in another escalation of the political crisis.

What just happened?

Power went down in Caracas around 13:20 (17:20 GMT) on Monday, causing chaos in the city's public transport system as the metro shut down and many thousands of people had to stream home on foot or by bus.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The city was blacked out at sunset on Monday

Electricity was restored about four hours later but cut out again at 21:50, Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez was quoted as saying by Efe news agency.

He had gone on state TV earlier to repeat the now-familiar assertion that opposition sabotage rather than a lack of maintenance had caused the afternoon blackout, saying hackers had attacked computers at the country's main hydroelectric dam.

The minister boasted that the first power cut had been fixed in "record time".

Because of the problems with the power supply, TV viewers could only see a garbled picture when Mr Rodríguez went live on air, a correspondent for the UK's Guardian newspaper tweeted from Caracas.

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