Venezuela to suspend classes, work activities amid power outage
CGTN

Classes and all work activities will be suspended on Monday due to a prolonged national power outage, Venezuela's Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Sunday.

"We'd like to inform that President Nicolas Maduro has decided that all classes and work activities will be suspended on Monday, March 11," the minister told state-run broadcaster VTV.

Venezuela, a country plagued by an intense political and economic crisis, has been undergoing a large-scale power outage since Thursday after what authorities called a sabotage at the country's central hydroelectric plant.

'Electromagnetic attack'

A man sells yuca as residents shop for food, mainly non-perishable to store, following a nationwide blackout, in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

A man sells yuca as residents shop for food, mainly non-perishable to store, following a nationwide blackout, in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

The government will make sure "that all Venezuelan people regain their tranquility which has been affected by the criminal and selfish actions that pursue nothing but the political ends of the extreme right," Rodriguez said.

He asked citizens to remain calm and said that "the most important thing is solidarity among neighbors, among community councils" and above all among organized people. He also reiterated the condemnations made by his government that the electrical disruption was due to a "brutal and devious attack" directed by the U.S. government.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido said he will ask lawmakers on Monday to declare a "state of alarm" over the country's devastating blackout in order to facilitate the delivery of international aid.

He also called for more street protests on Monday to pressure Maduro to step down, following up on Saturday's rally.

Maduro has blamed "imperialism" for the country's accumulating woes, and claims the power outage was caused by an electromagnetic attack on the Guri hydroelectric complex, which supplies 80 percent of Venezuela's electricity.

Currently, at least 18 of the 23 states remain blacked out. In the capital city Caracas power has been partially restored but remains intermittent.

'Patients at risk'

A mother waits next to her child in the emergency room of Caracas University Hospital during a continued power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

A mother waits next to her child in the emergency room of Caracas University Hospital during a continued power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

No national data was available about the impact of the power outage, but the Codevida health rights group reported the death of 15 kidney dialysis patients.

The country's Health Minister Carlos Alvarado on Sunday denied the deaths, saying the government quickly responded with a contingency plan.

"I want to deny outright the biased news of deaths due to the electricity issue. News that spread minutes after the criminal attack occurred, talking about the number of dead are absolutely false," Alvarado told state radio.

The minister said when the outage happened "90 percent of the electric generators in the health centers kicked in, this prevented a huge catastrophe, given that 200 patients were in intensive care or the operating room."

Thanks to a contingency plan which was immediately activated in more than 298 hospitals that make up the country's public health system, "we managed to avoid any event that we would regret," he said.

Source(s): AFP ,Xinhua News Agency