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Venezuela's Zulia state hit by power outage

VENEZUELA CRISIS | 21 de abril de 2019

A driver tries to get through an intersection following a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 10, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/Rayner Peña

Caracas, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- A power outage hit the northwestern Venezuelan state of Zulia early Sunday, state-owned electric utility Corpoelec said.

Zulia has been one of the states most affected by the power outages that started months ago and eventually forced the government to impose an electricity rationing system.

"Due to the rains adjacent to (the) Cuatricentenario (substation), an event occurred that interrupted electric service in Zulia," Corpoelec said in a Twitter post.

The state-owned electric utility did not provide details about the cause of the outage, but opposition Congressman Edwin Luzardo, who is from Zulia, tweeted that a transformer exploded.

"Sadly, Zulia state has become the epicenter for a great deal of misfortunes ... Transformer explosion leads to a new blackout," the lawmaker said.

Corpoelec said it was working to restore service, which is interrupted daily under the electricity rationing system implemented by President Nicolas Maduro's administration in 20 of this oil-rich South American nation's 23 states on March 31 following a series of blackouts.

Zulia has been dealing with power outages since last year.

On March 7, Venezuela experienced a massive blackout that kept virtually the whole country in the dark for five days until the government managed to regain control of the situation and restore electric service.

In all, Venezuela was paralyzed by power outages for at least 11 days in March.

The government said at the time that sabotage at the Guri hydroelectric complex was to blame for the blackout.

Maduro directly blamed the United States and the opposition for the alleged sabotage, claiming that "electromagnetic" attacks had been staged on the electric grid.

The opposition, however, blamed the Maduro regime for failures in the system, saying that the government's poor management of the grid was the real cause of the outage.

The early March blackout caused about 15 deaths due to the lack of electricity at Venezuelan hospitals, the opposition claims, while officials contend that just two people died.

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