New York: Packing strong winds of 80 mph Hurricane Irene hit America's North Carolina coast and was churning its way up the east coast, triggering an unprecedented exodus of tens of thousands of people from their homes.
   
Forecasters said that heavy winds and rains were lashing North Carolina coast. The Miami based National Hurricane centre said that Irene had already weakened and would lose force further on landfall.
   
Though the Hurricane's fury was lowered to Category 1 threat, it shut down airports, mass transit system and business in the entire eastern sea board as it headed towards Washington, New York and Boston.
   
The thickly populated corridor is home to 65 million people, who are now under a threat of storm surges, power outages and massive floorings’
   
New York mayor Michel Bloomberg ordered unprecedented evacuations of the sea facing areas of New York as President Barack Obama cut short his vacation and returned to Washington to deal with any crisis.
   
Bloomberg told newsmen that he has ordered first ever evacuation from parts of low lying areas of New York with a population of 250,000 as Irene could prove to be a matter of "life or death".
   
New York City authority warned that major links into the city would be snapped if the winds speed exceeds 60 miles/hour as predicted as they put 900 National Guards and a fleet of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters on standby.
   
The neighboring New Jersey area which has a sizeable Indian population has ordered 750,000 people out of the Cape May area.

(Agencies)