Venezuela decreed a 24-hour holiday Tuesday to cope with a new near-nationwide blackout that the government alleged was caused by an "attack" targeting its main hydroelectric plant.
Caracas and other cities were without power, knocking out public transport, water supplies and leaving buildings without generators – including many hospitals – plunged into gloom.
In the capital, streets were largely empty. There were lines for the very few buses running, but subway stations were closed, the underground trains stalled on their tracks. Shops were shuttered.
"Nothing is working. During blackout days you can't do anything at all. There's no internet, no access to cash," with automatic teller machines blanked out, said Yendresca Muñoz, a 34-year-old bank analyst living in Caracas.
"We have been victims of an attack against the electricity generation and distribution system, and specifically against the Guri plant," a giant hydroelectric facility that supplies power to 80 percent of Venezuela's 30 million inhabitants, Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez told state television.
He blamed the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó who is recognized by the United States and allied countries as Venezuela's interim president.
NetBlocks, an organisation that monitors the Internet, said it had detected a "severe impact" to the telecoms network across 18 of Venezuela's 23 states.
In the last blackout, President Nicolás Maduro also had said the Guri plant was targeted. Then, he accused the United States of launching a "cybernetic" attack against it, and accused the opposition of being behind acts of "sabotage."
He promised to protect infrastructure with a specially created military unit.
In that March 7-14 outage, more than a dozen patients in hospitals died, production slowed in the vital oil sector and water supplies were interrupted, forcing citizens to turn to sewage outflows and polluted water sources.
Analysts said that while a US attack was possible it was unlikely. They said years of underinvestment, poor management and corruption was the more likely culprit and they predicted more power cuts would follow.
Guaidó rejected the government's accusations against him, saying he had information from workers in the state electricity company Corpoelec that "an overload of some transformers" was to blame.
They "are going to announce that a UFO sent by Trump and Venezuela's right-wing launched an electromagnetic attack with extra-galactic weapons," said another.
One parody image posted online depicted the Guri dam being assaulted by a giant octopus.
For ordinary Venezuelans, the successive power cuts were one more indignity in a country where food and medicine have become scarce, the money decimated by runaway inflation, and the political system locked in a power struggle.