CARACAS, Wednesday April 30, 2008 | Update
Public transportation service, including the subway, collapsed in Caracas (Photo: Venancio Alcázares)
Minister of the Interior and Justice Ramón Rodríguez Chacín Tuesday informed that a major blackout hitting most of Venezuela at 3:59 pm (local time) was the result of a power outage in Guri dam, in southern Bolívar state, which caused a 800-KW high tension line to overheat.
"Because of such overheating, another high-tension line that was operating had to be brought out of service, in order to make the necessary repairs. When the second high-tension line was brought out of service, a blackout occurred in 13 states nationwide. Power supply has been resumed progressively."
The states most seriously hit were central Carabobo state, northwestern Zulia state, northern Miranda state, north central Capital District, north central coastal Vargas state, eastern Nueva Esparta state, eastern Sucre state, central Aragua state, western central Yaracuy state, northwestern Lara state, southwestern Mérida state, southern central Portuguesa state and y southwestern Apure state.
According to Rodríguez Chacín, no serious emergencies emerged amidst the blackout in hospitals and the Caracas subway other than power outage. In a hospital in Coche, southwest Caracas, the standby powerhouse would not operate, "but an auxiliary power plant was installed already to face any problems."
Power supply is expected to be restored fully Tuesday night. "Some substations are likely to take two hours until power fully restores."
He asked Venezuelans to be patient, as the blackout was caused by "mechanical problems" that "will be solved soon."
General Hipólito Izquierdo, the chair of the Venezuelan Electric Corporation, said that at 8 pm (local time) Tuesday power supply was restored in 85 percent of the states affected.
He added that power supply in the capital city of Caracas was 100 percent resumed. In central and western Venezuela the service was 90 percent back in line.
Despite Rodríguez Chacín's statements, the Vice-Ministry of Energy published a press release claiming that the blackout was the result of a forest fire in central Guárico state.
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.