Venezuela declares holiday over new blackout

Caracas: Venezuela decreed a 24-hour holiday on Tuesday to cope with a new near-nationwide blackout that the government alleged was caused by an “attack” targeting its main hydroelectric plant.
Caracas and other cities were without power, knocking out public transport, water supplies and leaving buildings without generators —including many hospitals — plunged into gloom.
In the capital, streets were largely empty. There were lines for the very few buses running, but subway stations were closed, the underground trains stalled on their tracks. Shops were shuttered.
“Nothing is working. During blackout days you can’t do anything at all. There’s no Internet, no access to cash,” with automatic teller machines blanked out, said Yendresca Munoz, a 34-year-old bank analyst living in Caracas.
The outage began in the middle of Monday, sparking fear and frustration as citizens confronted anew the paralysis that gripped the country just two weeks ago, in a vast blackout that lasted a week.
Lights came on briefly overnight, then cut out hours later, including at the main international airport outside Caracas, where passenger check-ins were being done by hand for lack of computers.
The government declared on Tuesday a work-free and school-free day to take a load off the grid.
“We have been victims of an attack against the electricity generation and distribution system, and specifically against the Guri plant,” a giant hydroelectric facility that supplies power to 80 per cent of Venezuela’s 30 million inhabitants, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez told state television.
He blamed the opposition, led by Juan Guaido who is recognised by the United States and allied countries as Venezuela’s interim president.
NetBlocks, an organisation that monitors the Internet, said it had detected a “severe impact” to the telecoms network across 18 of Venezuela’s 23 states.
In the last blackout, President Nicolas Maduro also had said the Guri plant was targeted.
Then, he accused the United States of launching a “cybernetic” attack against it, and accused the opposition of being behind acts of “sabotage.”