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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

Last updated on: October 31, 2012 19:36 IST

Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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United States authorities in densely-populated East Coast region scrambled on Wednesday to restore power and clear heaps of debris after superstorm Sandy left a trail of destruction from the Caribbean to Canada killing at least 122 people, including 55 in worst-hit New York and other American cities.

The storm, the most devastating witnessed by the US in decades, hit the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to Connecticut, cutting off communication and leaving millions of people shivering without power as thousands were evacuated from flooded neighbourhoods.

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Image: A Virgin Mary is all that remains from a home which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, Queens
Photographs: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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Among the US states hit by the megastorm, New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the disaster. In New York, an off-duty Ney York Police Department officer was among 22 killed.

He died while rescuing his family from floodwaters, CBS reported.

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Image: A general view of submerged cars on Ave. C and 7th st, after severe flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in Manhattan, New York
Photographs: Christos Pathiakis/Getty Images

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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The trail of destruction left by the monster storm prompted President Barack Obama to declare it a 'major disaster' in New York and New Jersey.

Rescuers on Wednesday combed neighborhoods strewn with debris, as authorities struggled to restore power to millions of households.

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Image: Residents look over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New York
Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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The death toll rose to 55 along the Atlantic Coast since Sandy made landfall on Monday, with 67 killed earlier as the then-hurricane ripped through the Caribbean.

New York and New Jersey combined together have one of the largest concentrations of Indian-Americans in the US. Quite a number of Indian-Americans, particularly in New Jersey, had to leave their flooded homes and had to be evacuated.

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Image: Fire inspectors walk through a neighborhood destroyed during Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City
Photographs: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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Obama, who suspended his campaign and took charge of the rescue operations, described the crisis as 'heartbreaking', warning Americans that the storm was 'not yet over'.

"This storm is not yet over," Obama said during his trip to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington.

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Image: A neighbourhood destroyed in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City
Photographs: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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Obama drove down to the Red Cross office headquarters to review rescue and recovery operation and said the federal government would push hard to provide resources to the States badly hit by Sandy.

According to a White House statement, Obama will travel to New Jersey to have a personal assessment of the devastation and take stock of the situation on the ground.

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Image: A loader moves sand washed in from Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, New Jersey
Photographs: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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Recovery efforts took off late last night. But thousands of people waited in shelters, not knowing whether their homes had survived. The number of people shivering without power fell below 7 million, down from nearly 8 million.

Losses from the storm could run between $15 billion and $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.

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Image: A firefighter looks through debris of a fire that destroyed over 50 homes during Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point neighbourhood of the Queens borough of New York
Photographs: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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Meanwhile, three US nuclear power reactors remained shut. Amid worries that waters could overwhelm the reactors as happened in Japan's Fukushima nuclear emergency last year, authorities on Tuesday said there were no risks to the public.

Sandy had on Monday slammed the coastline of New Jersey with 80 mph winds pushing seawater up by an unprecedented 13-feet in New York City, bringing the US presidential campaign to a halt a week before the November 6 polls.

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Image: A car is seen burned out in an electrical fire after a tree fell over a power line due to the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in Toronto
Photographs: Mark Blinch/Reuters

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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The deaths were reported from seven states in the US -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

New York City, which saw a four-metre storm surge, expects the toll to rise, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Image: Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in the Rockaways section of New York
Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters

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Sandy leaves 55 dead; Rescuers struggle to clear debris

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"In addition to the lives we lost, the damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive," Bloomberg told reporters.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced." In Staten Island, a large tanker ship ran aground.


Image: People walk through floodwaters in the Rockaways section of New York
Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters

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