Gunshot caused Venezuela power outage: Maduro

CARACAS Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:23pm EST

People walk on a street during a blackout in Caracas December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

People walk on a street during a blackout in Caracas December 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that saboteurs used a gun to bring down a power cable and plunge more than half of Venezuela into darkness earlier this month.

As well as causing chaos on the streets, the December 2 blackout sparked an immediate blame game. The government accused right-wing foes of an attack, while opponents said the outage was due to incompetent management of the electric grid.

"They attacked a transmission line," Maduro said in a speech to a regional summit in Caracas, attended by several heads of state. "The sabotage has been proven. With a gun shot, they split a key line and left the country in the dark."

Since winning a vote to replace late leader Hugo Chavez, the 51-year-old former bus driver has made a plethora of accusations against his foes, ranging from economic sabotage to death plots against him and Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello.

Critics, including opposition leader Henrique Capriles, have mocked those as lies designed to distract Venezuelans from day-to-day problems like stuttering public services.

Maduro's intelligence chief, Miguel Rodriguez, also had suggested that a gunman brought down the 765-megawatt electricity cable in the Venezuelan savannah that connects about two-thirds of the nation to the country's largest dam.

It was the second such outage there in three months.

"A good marksman can hit a three-centimeter cable from 50 meters. It's very easy," said Rodriguez, who is also interior minister and is helping lead the investigation into the power cut. "It was a clean cut."

Venezuela, an OPEC nation with the world's biggest oil reserves and a population of 29 million, has been suffering periodic electricity cuts since 2009, especially outside the capital Caracas.

Maduro blames sabotage and wasteful use of electricity by Venezuelans but critics say the power failures are symptomatic of lack of investment and mismanagement within state power company Corpoelec since Chavez's 2007 takeover of the sector.

Venezuela has a maximum generation capacity of about 28,000 megawatts and normal demand of about 18,000.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Comments (2)
Burns0011 wrote:
It is to laugh. A gunshot? Cutting a free-hanging cable with a bullet, however heavy? I suspect if this were tested on Mythbusters, it would come out with ‘Myth Busted’ as a result.

Dec 17, 2013 7:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Bogus101 wrote:
@Burns0011

Here’s your Myth Busted. However, it’s is your myth that’s busted, not Venezuela’s.

“Whether single or multiple, cables are highly vulnerable to a surprisingly low-tech method of attack: they can simply be shot down with an ordinary rifle. Ironically, the larger the capacity of a transmission line, the more vulnerable it is to being shot down. This is because large-capacity power lines use large-diameter cables which present a relatively easy target to hit.”

from — http://operationcircuitbreaker.wordpress.com/chapter-4-transmission-line-vulnerabilities/

Dec 18, 2013 4:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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