Caracas, major cities hit by new blackout | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 31, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:16 AM, March 31, 2019

VENEZUELA CRISIS

Caracas, major cities hit by new blackout

A new blackout hit Caracas and other major Venezuelan cities on Friday, the third major electricity outage in the crisis-plagued country this month.

The blackout began around 7:10pm, leaving the capital as well as cities including Maracaibo, Valencia, Maracay and San Cristobal without electricity, according to users on social media networks.

It is the third time since March 7 that a major power outage has hit Venezuela -- worsening the already-dire economic and living conditions in a country that is witnessing a major political showdown between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition chief Juan Guaido.

Maduro has blamed the previous outages on sabotage, but experts have said that infrastructure crumbling from years of neglect is a more likely culprit than outside interference.

Earlier on Friday, the Red Cross said it would begin impartially distributing aid in Venezuela in two weeks, brushing aside the threat of political interference amid the Maduro-Guaido power struggle.

Malnutrition and disease are on the rise as living conditions plummet in the oil-producing Latin American nation, which is spiraling ever deeper into economic chaos during a protracted political crisis.

The United States -- which considers Guaido interim president along with some 50 other countries -- welcomed the announcement as a "real opportunity."

Meanwhile, in a boost to Maduro, a Chinese plane loaded with 65 tons of medical aid landed in Caracas on Friday. His government celebrated it as a victory over US sanctions, which the socialist leader blames for the economic crisis.

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