March 8 (UPI) — A multi-state power outage hit Venezuela Thursday and President Nicolas Maduro’s administration is blaming it on anti-government saboteurs.
At least 18 of 23 states were reportedly affected by the power outage with the metro in the capital Caracas brought to a halt and the international airport submerged in darkness starting at around 5 p.m., El Nacional reported.
Venezuelan politician Jony Rahal tweeted out a video of people wandering around a mostly dark Simon Bolivar International Airport.
“This is part of a power war against the state,” the government-owned power corporation, Corpoelec, said in a tweet, stating its Guri hydroelectric station was “sabotaged” without providing evidence.
Embattled President Nicolas Maduro blamed the blackout on the United States.
“The electric War announced and directed by American imperialism against our people will be defeated,” he tweeted. “Nothing and no one can beat the people of Bolivar and Chávez. Maximum unity of the Patriots!”
Blackouts are not uncommon in Venezuela, which has been battling a worsening economic situation over the past few years. However, the magnitude of the blackout is unusual, the Washington Post reported.
Venezuela has been a tinderbox since early January when Venezuela’s National Assembly declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate.
National Assembly leader Juan Guiado, who has been appointed interim president until new elections can be held, has the backing of some 50 countries including the United States.
Maduro has fought to hold onto the reins of his country, blaming the attempt at his ousting as a U.S. coup.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted out an alert to the situation in South American country while condemning President Maduro.
“#MaduroRegime is a complete disaster,” he tweeted.