Frustration rises as Venezuela's blackout hits fifth day

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 11, 2019 - Duration: 02:38s

Frustration rises as Venezuela's blackout hits fifth day

Furious Venezuelans lined up to buy water and fuel on Monday as the country endured a fifth day of a nationwide blackout that has left already-scarce food rotting in shops, homes suffering for lack of water and cell phones without reception.

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Frustration rises as Venezuela's blackout hits fifth day

Power remained patchy in most parts of Venezuela on Monday after the country's main hydroelectric plant broke down last week- triggering a massive blackout.

The government suspended schools and business activities for a fifth day- but has given few explanations about exactly why the outage occurred-and how long it might take to resolve-- spurring fears it could be indefinite.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) RESIDENT, MAILEN GONZALEZ, SAYING: "Friday, Saturday and Sunday was horrible.

I was going crazy with no water, electricity.

For God's sake, how long are we going to continue like this?

The government does not want to accept that it's their fault because they have to carry out maintenance and for years, they have not done this." While blackouts are not unusual in Venezuela- this one is by far the worst in decades-- Caracas residents frustrated about the overall lack of services in a nation hard-hit by an economic recession.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT, LUMIDIA BOY, SAYING: "We had to give away our meat.

I am a single, working mother with two children - a girl and a boy.

Just imagine.

Everything is chaotic, there is no transportation, bad services, we do not have water, we do not have electricity.

The only thing left is the gas." On Monday- families stood in line to buy drinkable water, which is unavailable for most residents whose homes do not have power.

And on Sunday, lines at fuel stations extended for blocks with only around 100 of the country's 1,800 PDVSA service stations operating.

With food supplies and tempers running short-- there were also widespread reports of looting.

One incident in the south eastern part of the capital -triggered a shootout with police and National Guard troops.

Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido has blasted the government's response to the crisis and has called on the country's National Assembly to declare a state of emergency.

SOUNDBITE (SPANISH) VENEZUELA'S INTERIM PRESIDENT, JUAN GUAIDO: "We need to attend to this catastrophe immediately.

We can't turn our heads.

We can't leave our people alone, and you all in the (Venezuelan) states have the right to protest." And as the blackout continues -Venezuela's healthcare system which was flailing even before the outage- is now reportedly at a breaking point... with a limited number of backup generators and fuel shortages posing a greater risk for patients relying on machines that provide life support.

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