Venezuela’s next general election, scheduled for later this year, is in doubt after the electoral council said a fire in its main warehouse near the capital, Caracas, destroyed most of the voting machines held there.
Almost 50,000 voting machines and 582 computers used in the country's elections went up in flames, electoral council chief Tibisay Lucena said. She did not say if parliamentary elections could be affected by the loss of the machines and asked prosecutors to investigate the cause of the fire.
The fire broke out in the 65,000 sq ft warehouse in Mariche, east of Caracas, on Saturday.
While the warehouse is the main storage facility of the National Electoral Council, Ms Lucena said: "The electoral process is far from being destroyed." She said electoral procedure in Venezuela consisted of three steps and "only two of its processes" had been affected.
However, she did say that "little" had been salvaged from the fire despite great efforts made. "Nothing is being ruled out," Ms Lucena said, telling reporters that ahead of elections for Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, the CNE and its infrastructure had been targeted.
Recent elections in Venezuela have been beset by allegations of fraud. The company that provided the voting system in the 2017 election for the constituent assembly said that turnout figures had been inflated by one million, an allegation the CNE denied. The CNE say it is made up of stooges of the government
There were also allegations of vote-rigging in the 2018 presidential election in which incumbent President Nicolás Maduro won another six years in power.