Hurricane Sandy batters east coast of US

Mon, Oct 29, 2012, 00:00

Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, battered the densely populated east coast today, shutting down transportation, forcing evacuations in flood-prone areas and interrupting the presidential election campaign.


Fierce winds and flooding is expected along hundreds of miles of Atlantic coast and heavy snows are forecast farther inland at higher elevations when the centre of the storm moves ashore this evening near Atlantic City, New Jersey.

US stock markets were closed for the first time since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and will remain shut tomorrow. The government in Washington was closed and school was cancelled up and down the east coast.

Nearly 700,000 customers were without power by midday and millions more could lose electricity. One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half of it insured.

"This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern Seaboard I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations," President Barack Obama said at the White House.

State governors from Virginia to Massachusetts warned of the acute danger from the storm for the 60 million residents in its path. Ten states have declared a state of emergency.

"There will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused by the intensity of this storm, by the floods, by the tidal surge, by the waves. The more responsibly citizens act, the fewer people will die," Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley told reporters.

Forecasters said Sandy could be the largest storm to hit the mainland in US history.

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