Much of Venezuela plunged into darkness Thursday evening, creating chaos as people struggled to navigate their way home amid what appeared to be one of the biggest blackouts yet in a country where power failures have become common.
Commuters took to the sidewalks in Caracas after subway service stopped and a snarl of cars jammed the streets with stoplights out.
State-owned electricity operator Corpoelec blamed the outage on what it called an "attack" on the Guri Dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric stations and the cornerstone of Venezuela's electrical grid.
"We've been targeted again in the power war," Maj. Gen. Luis Motta, President Nicolas Maduro's minister of electrical power, said on state television.
Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez called the blackout a criminal act by right-wing extremists intent on creating chaos by leaving Venezuelans without power for several days. He said Maduro's government had defeated the "sabotage" and already restored power in the country's eastern region.
Officials did not indicate how much of Venezuela had lost power, though local media said nearly all of the country had been blacked out.
Motto said it would take "approximately three hours" for service to be fully restored, though patience was running thin as the blackout dragged on.
The outage comes as Venezuela is in the throes of a political struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido,
Trump's envoy vows sanctions on pro-Maduro banks
US President Trump's special representative for Venezuela pledged on Thursday that Washington would "expand the net" of sanctions on the South American nation, including more on banks supporting President Maduro's government.
"There will be more sanctions on financial institutions that are carrying out the orders of the Maduro regime," Elliott Abrams told a US Senate subcommittee hearing.
Abrams, a neoconservative who has long advocated an activist US role in the world, said he had been asking European banks to take steps to shield individual Venezuelans' assets from Maduro's government.
He did not name the banks.