Venezuela suspends work, classes due to major blackout

CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuela’s government suspended work and classes yesterday due to a massive electricity blackout that has ground much of the country to a halt, the Vice President said.

President Nicolas Maduro – who has denounced the blackout as an act of “sabotage” – made the decision “in order to facilitate efforts for the recovery of electricity service in the country,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.

The government said the blackout was affecting 23 of the crisis-wracked country’s 24 states.

The blackout in the capital was total and hit at 4.50pm (2050 GMT), just before nightfall. Caracas is one of the world’s most crime-ridden cities, so people set out for home early, well before the sun went down.

Traffic lights went out and the subway system ground to a halt, triggering gridlock in the streets and huge streams of angry people trekking long distances to get home from work.

Telephone services and access to the internet were also knocked out.

The capital’s international airport was hit, according to social media posts from would-be travellers.

People cross a street during a power cut in Caracas. – AFP