New York: The edge of Hurricane Irene hit New York, bringing torrential rain, freshening winds and fears of widespread flooding after killing at least eight people in its run up the US East coast.
   
The first hurricane to hit the Big Apple in a generation swept in overnight, accompanied by lightening, reports of tornadoes and deafening rainfall.
   
The city was a ghost town after 370,000 people were told to evacuate flood-prone areas, including near Wall Street and at Coney Island. Subway trains, buses and the famous Staten Island ferry were all shut down on Saturday.
   
"The edge of the Hurricane is finally upon us," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a press conference, adding that "the time for evacuations is over."
   
"At this point, if you haven't evacuated our suggestion is you stay where you are," he said. "Nature is a lot stronger than the rest of us."
   
Packing winds of up to 85 miles (140 kilometers) an hour, Irene was a deadly category one storm when it made landfall at 8:00 am (1200 GMT) on Saturday at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, near a chain of barrier islands.
   
At least eight people, including an 11-year-old boy struck by a falling tree, died in storm-related incidents along the Eastern seaboard.
   
Irene knocked out power supplies for well over a million people, triggered the cancellation of more than 8,000 flights, and forced nearly two million people to evacuate, half of them in New Jersey.
   
The eye of the storm was expected to reach New York by around midday (1600 GMT) on Sunday.

Hurricane Irene hits New York, 8 people died in storms in New York, fears of widespread flooding in New York.

Irene knocks out power in US

Bearing down on major US East Coast cities, including Washington, Philadelphia and New York, Hurricane Irene knocked out power in more than a million homes and forced millions off the New Jersey shore alone.

Though weakened somewhat since coming ashore early Saturday near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, Irene is continuing its relentless march up north with sustained winds around 80 mph and extending 85 miles from its centre.

Slowly losing more strength, Irene which has claimed nine lives so far in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, is expected to remain a hurricane until it once again makes landfall on Sunday afternoon in southern New England, forecasters said.

In Virginia, more than 600,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said. Officials warned people to be prepared to be without power for up to a week.

More than one million people on the Jersey shore had joined untold numbers of others from the Carolinas to New England in moving inland or to higher ground, away from the storm's worst impacts, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said.

The city's transit system, shut down on Saturday, may not be fully running again until Monday at the earliest, high-rise buildings are being instructed to turn off elevators and utility Con Ed may have to cut power to Manhattan, Bloomberg said.

Authorities in communities across North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland announced curfews. Some banned the sale of alcohol. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a state of emergency, telling residents to be prepared to go without power for up to two weeks.

Boston has joined New York, New Jersey and the cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore in suspending all transit service, including subways and buses on Sunday.  Philadelphia International Airport will remain closed from 10:30 p.m. on Saturday until at least 4 p.m. on Sunday.

(Agencies)