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New York Declared Major Disaster Area

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A "Major Disaster" In New York State After Storm Sandy

US President Barack Obama has declared a "major disaster" in New York state after storm Sandy smashed into the US East Coast, causing flooding and cutting power to millions.

A record 4m (13ft) tidal surge sent seawater cascading into large parts of New York City's subway system. Across the city, a power sub-station exploded, a hospital was evacuated and fire destroyed 50 homes. At least 32 people are reported dead across several US states. At least eight million homes and businesses are without power, says the US Department of Energy. In all, about 50 million people could be affected by the storm, with up to a million ordered to evacuate their homes. In New York City, 10 people were killed and the death toll could still rise, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

In New Jersey, three people were killed, including a couple killed by a falling tree when they got out of their car; their children, 11 and 14, who remained inside, survived. A woman in West Virginia died when her car collided with a cement lorry, in heavy snow caused by the storm. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said 2.4 million households in the state had been affected, double the number hit by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The devastation was "beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," Mr Christie told a news conference.

The tidal surge from the storm left fields of debris 7ft (2.25m) high and carried small railway goods cars onto elevated sections of the New Jersey Turnpike, he said. It is likely to take more than eight days to restore services fully, Mr Christie estimated. Power is likely to remain out in New York City for two to three days, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Public transport remains closed until further notice, schools will not open again on Wednesday and all major airports are closed because their runways are flooded, the mayor told a news briefing. Sandy, now downgraded from a hurricane but described as a "super-storm", is churning north and heading for Canada.

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