Was Venezuela’s 5-Day Blackout Caused By Cyberattacks — or Wildfires?

What caused a devastating five-day blackout in Venezuela? Two engineers with expertise in geospatial technologies believe the answer lies in images from a NASA weather satellite showing thermal activity, which they superimposed onto Google Earth, the AP reports:
Within hours of the attack, the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro began accusing the U.S. of a cyberattack. Maduro has stuck to that narrative, saying hackers in the U.S. first shut down the Guri Dam and then delivered several “electromagnetic” blows. Engineers have questioned that assertion, contending that the Guri Dam’s operating system is on a closed network with no internet connection.

Several consulted by The Associated Press speculated that a more likely cause was a fire along one of the electrical grid’s powerful 765-kilovolt lines that connect the dam to much of Venezuela. The transmission lines traverse through some of Venezuela’s most remote and difficult to access regions on their way toward Caracas, making it difficult to obtain any first-hand information that could back up or pinpoint the location of a fire. Working with an expert at Texas Tech University’s Geospatial Technologies Laboratory, Jose Aguilar, an expert on Venezuela’s electrical grid, said satellite data indicates that on the day of the blackout there were three fires in close proximity to the 765-kilovolt lines transmitting power generated from the Guri Dam, which provides about 80 percent of Venezuela’s electricity…

Engineers have warned for years that Venezuela’s state-run electricity corporation was failing to properly maintain power lines, letting brush that can catch fire during Venezuela’s hot, dry months grow near and up the towering structures.

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