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Venezuela seeks to restore power amid looting

Updated : 2019-03-14 10:42:09

President Nicolas Maduro's government scrambled on Wednesday to return power to western Venezuela following heavy looting in the country's second largest city.

Power had returned to many parts of Venezuela after a nationwide outage last week, with the country's main port terminal of Jose, which is crucial for oil exports, resuming operations. The government said people could return to work on Thursday, following several consecutive public holidays due to the lack of electricity.

School will remain suspended for 24 more hours, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a state television broadcast on Wednesday, adding that power supply had been broadly restored but problems remained in some areas with transformers that had been "sabotaged."

The ruling Socialist Party blamed the outage on US sabotage, accusing President Donald Trump of being responsible for several cyber attacks on Venezuela's main dam.

Energy supplies remained patchy in the sweltering western state of Zulia, where anger after nearly a week without power overflowed into street violence.

Looters smashed shop windows and made off with merchandise in more than 300 businesses across the state along the border with Colombia, the Zulia chapter of business organisation Fedecamaras said in a statement.

Following the wave of pillaging on Sunday, many businesses sold off their remaining merchandise on the cheap for fear of more looting.

The country's top food company, Empresas Polar, said four facilities in Maracaibo, Venezuela's biggest city after Caracas, had been sacked this week, with looters making off with water, soft drinks and pasta.

People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. The blackout marked another harsh blow to a country paralyzed by turmoil as the power struggle between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido stretches into its second month and economic hardship grows. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. The blackout marked another harsh blow to a country paralyzed by turmoil as the power struggle between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido stretches into its second month and economic hardship grows. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People wait their turn to fill containers with water from a public fountain in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
People wait their turn to fill containers with water from a public fountain in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A man carries a container he filled with water at Avila National Park during rolling blackouts which has cut many off from running water in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
A man carries a container he filled with water at Avila National Park during rolling blackouts which has cut many off from running water in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Men fill containers with water at Avila National Park during rolling blackouts which has cut many off from running water in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Men fill containers with water at Avila National Park during rolling blackouts which has cut many off from running water in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
The main entrance of a mall stands burned and damaged after looting the previous day in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Venezuela's largest private food supplier says massive looting and vandalism occurred at four facilities in Maracaibo during nationwide power outages, complicating efforts to distribute food and drinks to people in the area. (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
The main entrance of a mall stands burned and damaged after looting the previous day in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Venezuela's largest private food supplier says massive looting and vandalism occurred at four facilities in Maracaibo during nationwide power outages, complicating efforts to distribute food and drinks to people in the area. (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
The hallway of a mall is trashed after stores stand empty one day after it was looted in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019.  (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
The hallway of a mall is trashed after stores stand empty one day after it was looted in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019.  (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
A mall employee inspects stores one day after the mall was looted, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
A mall employee inspects stores one day after the mall was looted, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Henry Chirinos)
A boy carries bottles with water at a desalination plant in La Guaira, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
A boy carries bottles with water at a desalination plant in La Guaira, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
A man pushes a trolley with bottles filled with water in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A man pushes a trolley with bottles filled with water in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
People wait to carry water at a desalination plant in La Guaira, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
People wait to carry water at a desalination plant in La Guaira, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
A bottle is being filled with a small stream of water from the mountain in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A bottle is being filled with a small stream of water from the mountain in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Empty bottles are seen as people wait to fill them with water from the mountain in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Empty bottles are seen as people wait to fill them with water from the mountain in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
People wait as a bottle fills with water from a mountain stream in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
People wait as a bottle fills with water from a mountain stream in Caracas, Venezuela March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Locals collect water from an underground water main pipeline in Caracas, Venezuela March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Locals collect water from an underground water main pipeline in Caracas, Venezuela March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
People wait in line to fill up containers with water from a public fountain in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Most people have been deprived of power, water and communications since last Thursday when nationwide power outages first hit, abruptly worsening conditions in a nation already struggling with hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
People wait in line to fill up containers with water from a public fountain in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Most people have been deprived of power, water and communications since last Thursday when nationwide power outages first hit, abruptly worsening conditions in a nation already struggling with hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A woman waits her turn to fill containers with water from a public fountain, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A woman waits her turn to fill containers with water from a public fountain, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
People chat as they fill containers with water from a public fountain, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
People chat as they fill containers with water from a public fountain, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
People collect water from a truck that delivers water during rolling blackouts, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
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