Venezuela still in dark, public holiday declared

Venezuela still in dark, public holiday declared

Venezuela still in dark, public holiday declared

Venezuela suspended school and business activities on March 11 amid a continuing blackout, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a televised broadcast, the second such cancellation since power went out last week.

At least 15 patients with advanced kidney disease were reported to have died since the massive power outage began on March 7, as hospitals struggled to provide emergency services and the threat of spoiling food supplies put many on edge.

The government on March 10 suspended school and business activities for yesterday without providing any information on a likely time frame for resolving the situation, leaving many fretting that it could extend indefinitely.

"We must attend to this catastrophe immediately. We cannot turn away from it," said Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the National Assembly who in January declared himself interim president, triggering a power struggle in the oil-rich South American country of 30 million.

On March 10, he told reporters he would convene an emergency session of the opposition-controlled National Assembly to declare the "state of alarm"- setting up another test of wills with President Nicolas Maduro.

Last month, Maduro used the military to block an opposition bid to bring in more than 250 tons of supplies over land from Colombia and Brazil.

On March 10, the embattled president vowed not to back down.

"This macabre strategy to bring us to a confrontation will fail," he wrote on Twitter.

Power was restored late on March 10 in some areas of the capital Caracas, sparking enthusiastic cheers. But already twice so far, the restoration of electricity has been fleeting.