Much of Venezuela has lost power, with the government once again accusing opponents of sabotaging the nation’s hydroelectric power system.
The power in the capital Caracas went out after 4pm and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the underground rail system stopped working during rush hour.
Almost three hours into the blackout authorities broke their silence and attributed it to an “electromagnetic attack” on a series of dams located in southern Venezuela.
The same culprit was blamed for an almost week-long outage in March that left millions of Venezuelans without water or the ability to communicate with loved ones.
Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said authorities were working to restore electricity as quickly as possibly.
He added that security forces had been deployed, and contingency plans activated, to guarantee basic medical services and keep streets safe.
Mr Rodriguez said: “Those who’ve systematically attacked the noble people of Venezuela in all kinds of ways will once again be confronted with the mettle and courage that we, the children of our liberator Simon Bolivar, have demonstrated in the face of difficulties.”
Reports on social media said that 19 of 24 Venezuelan states were also affected.
Netblocks, a group monitoring internet activity, said network data showed most of Venezuela was knocked offline with national connectivity at just 6% after the latest cuts.
We Venezuelans won’t grow accustomed to this
Normally non-stop state TV, a key way for the government to keep people informed, was also off the air for a while, adding to frustrations.
President Nicolas Maduro blamed the March outage on a US-sponsored attack against the nation’s biggest hydroelectric dam.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who the US and more than 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader, reiterated an earlier call for nationwide protests on Tuesday.
Intentaron esconder la tragedia con racionamientos en todo el país, pero el fracaso es evidente: destruyeron el sistema eléctrico y no tienen respuestas.
Mañana, con fuerza, vamos a la asamblea en la calle. Los venezolanos no nos acostumbraremos a este desastre. #ApagónNacional
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) July 22, 2019
“We Venezuelans won’t grow accustomed to this,” he said.
Much of the government’s focus since the March blackouts has been on repairing transmission lines near the Guri Dam, which provides about 80% of Venezuela’s electricity.
Jose Aguilar, a US-based power expert who hails from Venezuela, said that alternative power plants running on diesel fuel and gas cannot make up the difference.