A massive power outage appears to have hit every major urban centre in Venezuela today shortly before 5 PM, with some reports indicating that every single state in the country has been plunged into darkness. As of the writing of this update (11:30 PM local time), the blackout is still affecting most if not all of the country.
The outage was visualized by Netblocks, which placed the start of the outage at 4:55 PM local time:
CORPOELEC, the state-run electrical utility company, was quick to blame the outage on “sabotage”:
#NOW They sabotaged the Guri [power station]… This is part of the electrical war against the State. We will not allow this! We are working to restore service.
The Guri power station is the largest in the country, and provides most of Venezuela’s electricity. The fact that the entire country has been affected by the blackout for a prolonged period of time is consistent with a major flaw at Guri.
Maduro followed up CORPOELEC’s tweet with the following message:
The electrical war announced and directed by United States imperialism against our people will be defeated. Nothing or no one will be able to defeat the people of Bolivar and Chavez. Patriots, maximum unity!
Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez tripled down on the sabotage claim later in the evening when he said:
Once again, we’ve become the object of the electric war. They attacked the generation and transmission [equipment] in Guri (…) this is an attack to create chaos and destabilization in the country, which is currently at peace.
There is no evidence at this time that the blackout was caused deliberately. Massive blackouts are common in Venezuela, as years of mismanagement and corruption have left the country’s electrical infrastructure in disrepair and without the technical expertise required to operate it.
Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez gave a television address early in the evening but offered little information on the outage, saying instead that it was part of a “technical and cybernatic” attack against the country’s power grid.
The blackout is also affecting cellular service, and large sections of the country appear to be completely disconnected from the rest of the world.
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