Washington/New York: Megastorm Sandy battered the US East Coast on Tuesday with fierce winds and heavy rains, killing at least 13 people and causing a power plant explosion, besides uprooting trees, power lines and plunging much of Manhattan in darkness.

 

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Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the US, battered the coastline of New Jersey, where a large number of Indian families reside, with 80 mph winds, pushing seawater up by an unprecedented 13-feet in New York City. Floods inundated large number of areas in New York and New Jersey and an explosion at a sub-station on the east side of Manhattan's Midtown left 500,000 people without power.

The storm hit land near Atlantic City about 8 p.m. (6:30 a.m. India time Tuesday) packing 80-mph winds at landfall, down from the 90 mph clocked earlier on Monday. Hurricane-force winds stretched from Cape Cod to the Virginia coast as Sandy swept ashore, with its storm surge setting new high-water records for lower Manhattan and swamping beachfronts on both sides of Long Island Sound.

Transit shutdown

Mass transit shut down across the densely populated northeast, landmarks stood empty and schools and government offices were closed. The National Grid, which provides power to millions of customers, said 60 million people could be affected before it’s over.

In New York, lower Manhattan's Battery Park recorded a 12.75-foot tide, breaking a record set in 1960 with Hurricane Donna. The city halted service on its bus and train lines, closing schools and ordering about 400,000 people out of their homes in low-lying areas of Manhattan and elsewhere.

Police closed part of the street and evacuated several nearby buildings, including the Parker Meridien hotel. By Monday afternoon, 23 states were under a warning or advisory for wind related to Sandy. Thousands of flights had been cancelled, and hundreds of roads and highways were expected to flood.

Winter storm warnings were issued through on Wednesday morning for southwest Virginia and the East Tennessee mountains, where snow had already started falling, according to reports.

Flights cancelled

More than 30 inches of snow was expected in the higher elevations of West Virginia, and a foot was forecast in the North Carolina Mountains. With the storm expected to linger longer than most, the federal workforce and public employees in the national capital, Maryland and Virginia were told to stay home for a second day on Tuesday.

Local schools in Wasgungton and adjoining states were shut down. Metro and other transit agencies planned to remain out of service on Tuesday. No flights were expected on Tuesday in or out of the region's three airports, where scores of travellers were stranded on Monday after airlines halted service throughout the Northeast.

(Agencies)

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