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Caracas and other major Venezuelan cities hit by new blackout


AFP Caracas
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 7:10 pm, 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.
"We estimate that in a period of approximately 15 days we will be ready to offer help," said Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
The United States -- which considers Guaido interim president along with some 50 other countries -- welcomed the announcement as a "real opportunity." Rocca told reporters in Caracas the organization would begin distributing aid mid-April, including tons of mostly US food and medical supplies that Maduro has to date refused to allow into the country -- leaving it stockpiled for weeks on the borders with Colombia and Brazil.

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First Published: Mar 30 2019 | 8:05 AM IST

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