The air in the crowded emergency ward was already thick with the rusty smell of dried blood when the door burst open and two men barged in, screaming for help.
Between them, they carried a third man: barefoot, bare-chested – and bleeding freely from a deep wound which had nearly severed his right arm.
Two doctors ran over to help; one examined the wounded man while the other told his friends to go and find bottled water and sutures; there were none left in the hospital.
The nationwide blackout which struck Venezuela on 7 March caused chaos across the country, paralyzing airports and hospitals, cutting phone and internet services, and shutting down water supplies.
But nowhere was the havoc as intense as in the country’s second city, Maracaibo, which was convulsed by a wave of looting and violence on a scale unseen for decades.
Video posted on social media showed chaotic scenes in which crowds forced their way into shops to steal food, medicines and valuables.
“It was total madness,” said Ricardo Acosta, a vice president of a business association in the surrounding Zulia state.
At the city’s University Hospital, the scene in casualty was like something from a war film. Dozens of patients and their families were crowded into the sweltering ward, a few lying on beds, others slumped on the bloodstained floor.
The hospital is Maracaibo’s largest – and one of just two with their own emergency generators, although power was connected only in the emergency ward. www.theguardian.com