Venezuela Blackout Hits Much of Country, Seeking Cause: Official

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said authorities were seeking more information on a blackout that has cut electricity in various parts of the country, speaking in a live television broadcast that was twice interrupted by the problem.

The OPEC nation has suffered an increasing incidence of power outages in recent years, which critics have attributed to low electricity tariffs and limited state investment following the 2007 nationalization of the power sector.

"It seems like there are some problems, we are going to investigate the problems we are having with electrical service in some parts of the country," Maduro in a live speech.

Television screens froze for several seconds during the broadcast of the awards ceremony for a national journalism prize. The words "It looks like the power went out" were audible in the background.

Power was cut off in parts of the capital Caracas, according to Reuters witnesses, while Twitter users reported outages in other parts of the country including the second city of Maracaibo and the industrial center of Valencia.

A representative of state oil company PDVSA said he had not received any reports of the oil industry being affected.

State power company Corpoelec and the Electricity Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

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