Venezuela's government suspended work and classes Friday due to a massive electricity black-out that has ground much of the country to a halt, the vice president said.
President Nicolás Maduro – who has denounced the blackout as an act of "sabotage" – made the decision "in order to facilitate efforts for the recovery of electricity service in the country," Vice President Delcy Rodríguez tweeted.
The government said the blackout was affecting 23 of the crisis-wracked country's 24 states.
The blackout in the capital was total and hit at 4.50pm local time, just before nightfall. Caracas is one of the world's most crime-ridden cities, so people set out for home early, well before the sun went down.
Critics blame the government for failing to invest in upkeep of the electrical grid, although the government often blames external factors when the lights go out.
The state power company Corpoelec said there has been sabotage at a big hydroelectric plant called Guri in Bolívar state, one of the largest in Latin America. It gave no details.
The Guri plant also supplies cheap electricity to the neighboring Brazilian state of Roraima, which has had to resort to using its own, costlier thermoelectric plants following the power cut in Venezuela.