Thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro march in Caracas, Venezuela, earlier this year amid an economic crisis that's hampered many sectors of industry. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE
Oct. 18 (UPI) -- An exploding transformer knocked out power to most of Venezuela for two days, leaving hospitals with no electricity and causing the deaths of three people, officials said.
The blackout affected 16 states across Venezuela on Monday and Tuesday.
Lengthy power disruptions have become common in the economically-struggling country, even though it sits on the world's largest oil reserve. The blackouts are especially difficult for doctors who already have a lack of medical supplies to treat patients.
"This situation is lamentable because you feel a lot of impotence," Hania Salazar, president of the nursing association in the state of Zulia, told ABC News. "How, as a human, as a health professional, can you treat a patient when you don't have anything to offer them when you don't know when the electricity will cut off? We have had patients die and before they die, they tell us 'Don't let me die, I don't want to die, save me.' Those are the words that echo in our ears and in our conscious."
Daily life is a struggle as a survey by three universities this year revealed that 6 out of every 10 Venezuelans lost 24 pounds over the last year and 9 in 10 are unable to afford food for daily consumption. Inflation could top 1 million percent by the end of the year, the IMF predicts.
This month, Venezuela announced it would replace the U.S. dollar with the euro or yuan or "any tradeable currency" for its global trade.
U.S. sanctions have made it difficult for state-run and private companies in Venezuela to conduct business, said Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela's minister of industries and national production.
"We have to generate new conditions to overcome these aggression on the part of the government of the USA, for which we have taken some actions," El Aissami said. "They continue to try to impose exchange rates that do not correspond to rational economic formulas. This will show you how far the madness of imperialism has come. It is increasingly more hostile to trade with your currency."
There's been a mass exodus out of the nation, with neighboring countries reporting a 900 percent increase in Venezuelan migrants.