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Lights Out In Venezuela; President Blames Opposition Saboteurs

Fans wait for play to resume Tuesday at a FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game in Caracas, Venezuela. A blackout left about 70 percent of the country without electricity.
Ariana Cubillos
/
AP
Fans wait for play to resume Tuesday at a FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game in Caracas, Venezuela. A blackout left about 70 percent of the country without electricity.

Venezuela's President Nicholas Maduro said a massive power outage that plunged most of the country into darkness Tuesday, causing traffic chaos in the bustling capital of Caracas, was due to sabotage.

Officials said 70 percent of the country was without electricity, shutting down traffic lights and partially disrupting the underground transport system.

Speaking on state television, which was apparently unaffected by the outage, Maduro blamed the opposition for "sabotage" and said the power cuts were "part of a low-level war" conducted by "twisted and desperate minds."

The BBC quotes opposition leader Henrique Capriles as saying, however, that the government was trying to divert attention for its own failures.

The Venezuelan official in charge of the nation's electricity system, Jesse Chacon, said on state television that the failure was in the "backbone" that carries electricity from the Bajo Caroni region, where 60 percent of Venezuela's power is generated, according to The Associated Press.

Power that was lost at midday in Caracas was restored by nightfall, the AP says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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