VENEZUELA has been engulfed by one of the largest power cuts in years, raising tensions in a country already facing ongoing political turmoil.

The blackout hit 22 out of 23 states, it was reported, including the capital Caracas at peak rush hour.

As the subway service was stopped, thousands of commuters flooded into the streets, while cars jammed roads amid confusion over blackened traffic lights.

Nurses in one maternity ward had to use candles to monitor the vital signs of premature babies in incubators after back-up generators shut off.

Venezuela’s socialist government blasted the outage as an “electrical war” directed by the United States.

Communications minister Jorge Rodriguez said right-wing extremists intent on causing pandemonium in Venezuela and taking orders from Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio were behind the blackout, although he offered no proof.

CHINA’s foreign minister has said last week’s US-North Korea summit was an “important step” towards denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.

The summit ended without an agreement after a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide in return for nuclear disarmament steps.

But Wang Yi said the fact the two leaders “overcame obstacles to meet again in a candid face-to-face discussion itself represents a positive development that must be applauded”.

Wang encouraged the countries to “remain patient” and noted many issues concerning the peninsula “cannot be solved overnight”.

MEANWHILE in the United States, President Donald Trump headed to Alabama to survey the damage from a deadly tornado outbreak that devastated a small town, killing 23 people.

It was one of at least 36 tornadoes to touch down across the south-east of the country in a deadly weekend outbreak.

Trump said he had instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give Alabama “the A-plus treatment” as the state recovers, marking the latest example of the president’s differing rhetoric concerning states that voted for and against him.

AND in Finland, Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s centre-right government has resigned after failing to push through a planned social and health reform.

Sipila told a public broadcaster that the reform had been one of his government’s “most important projects”.

The reform, which has been attempted unsuccessfully by successive governments, was meant to tackle an ageing population, improve efficiency and reduce public spending by three billion euros (£2.6bn) by 2029.