Superstorm Sandy toll over 120 as rescuers struggle with aftermath
New York: US authorities on Wednesday scrambled to restore power and clear heaps of debris in the densely- populated East Coast region after superstorm Sandy left a trail of destruction from the Caribbean to Canada, claiming 59 lives in the US alone.
The most devastating storm witnessed by the US in decades, hit Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to Connecticut, cutting off communication and leaving millions of people shivering without power as thousands were evacuated from flooded neighbourhoods.
At least 59 people have been reported dead as a result of the storm, Fox news said. It said quoting estimates from an economic firm that up to USD 20 billion had been lost due to the calamity.
The number of deaths in New York City from superstorm rose to 24. Among the dead was an off-duty NYPD officer who died while rescuing his family from floodwaters, CBS reported.
Many of the storm victims were killed by falling trees uprooted by the torrential wind and rains, they said.
Among the US states hit by the megastorm, New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the disaster.
The trail of destruction left by the monster storm prompted President Barack Obama to declare it a "major disaster" in New York and New Jersey.
Rescuers today combed neighborhoods strewn with debris, as authorities struggled to restore power to millions of households.
The storm claimed at least 67 lives as the then-hurricane ripped through the Caribbean. Over 120 people have been killed so far in the US, Haiti and Canada.
New York and New Jersey combined together have one of the largest concentrations of Indian-Americans in the US. Quite a number of Indian-Americans, particularly in New Jersey, had to leave their flooded homes and had to be evacuated.
Obama, who suspended his campaign and took charge of the rescue operations, described the crisis as "heartbreaking", warning Americans that the storm was "not yet over".
"This storm is not yet over," Obama said during his trip to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington.
Obama drove down to the Red Cross office headquarters to
review rescue and recovery operation and said the federal government would push hard to provide resources to the States badly hit by Sandy.
According to a White House statement, Obama will travel to New Jersey to have a personal assessment of the devastation and take stock of the situation on the ground.
New York Governot Andrew Cuomo today said limited New York City subway service supplemented by a bus bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan will begin tomorrow.
There will be more service literally on a day by day basis, Cuomo added.
Recovery efforts took off late last night. But thousands of people waited in shelters, not knowing whether their homes had survived. The number of people shivering without power fell below 7 million, down from nearly 8 million.
Losses from the storm could run between USD 15 billion and USD 20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.
Meanwhile, three US nuclear power reactors remained shut.
Amid worries that waters could overwhelm the reactors as happened in Japan's Fukushima nuclear emergency last year, authorities yesterday said there were no risks to the public.
Sandy had on Monday slammed the coastline of New Jersey with 80 mph winds pushing seawater up by an unprecedented 13-feet in New York City, bringing the US presidential campaign to a halt a week before the November 6 polls.
The deaths were reported from seven states in the US -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.
New York City, which saw a four-metre storm surge, expects the toll to rise, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"In addition to the lives we lost, the damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive," Bloomberg told reporters. "This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced."
In Staten Island, a large tanker ship ran aground.