Millions of people across the eastern US awoke yesterday to scenes of destruction wrought by monster storm Sandy, which knocked out power to huge swathes of the nation’s most densely populated region, swamped New York’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.
At least 15 people were reported killed in the US by Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country, which dropped just below hurricane status before making landfall on Monday night in New Jersey.
The storm interrupted the US presidential campaign a week before election day — posing both risks and opportunities for US President Barack Obama as he seeks a second term — and closed US financial markets for a second day.
More than 1 million people in a dozen states were under orders to evacuate as the massive system continued its trek westward. It left behind a trail of damage — homes underwater, trees toppled and power lines downed — caused by epic flooding and fierce winds all along the eastern seaboard.
Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states. One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach US$20 billion, only half insured.
“It’s total devastation down there, there are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” evacuee Peter Sandomeno said.
Firefighters in boats rescued more than 25 people from 50 homes in a New York neighborhood that were destroyed by a mass blaze after the storm, officials said yesterday.
The Breezy Point District of Queens was left a smoldering tangle of wood and metal yesterdayafter the blaze. Firefighters said it was “a miracle” that only two minor injuries were reported.
Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, which brought a record storm surge of almost 4.2m to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 3m during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the US National Weather Service said.
Water poured into the subway system and tunnels that course under the city, raising concerns that the world’s financial capital could be hobbled for days.
Hurricane-force winds as high as 145kph were recorded, said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.
Large sections of New York City were without power, and transportation in the metropolitan area was at a standstill.
It could take anywhere from 14 hours to four days to get the water out of the flooded subway tunnels, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
Two people in New York City reportedly died in the storm: a man in a house hit by a tree and a woman who stepped into an electrified puddle of water. Two other people were killed in suburban Westchester County, north of New York City, and two others were reported killed on suburban Long Island.
A motor vehicle death in Massachusetts was blamed in part on the bad weather. Two other people were killed in Maryland in storm-related incidents, state authorities said. Deaths also were reported in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, CNN said.
Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding US coastal areas.
More than 7 million people in several states were without electricity due to the storm.
Two nuclear power plants were shut down early yesterday in the aftermath of Sandy, but the plant operators stressed there were no risks to the public.
New Jersey’s main power company PSEG Nuclear shut down its Salem 1 unit on the Delaware river, saying most of its water circulation pumps had been rendered unusable “due to weather impacts.”
In New York, power generator Entergy shut down a unit of its Indian Point nuclear facility “due to external electrical grid issues.”
Another unit remained at full power, and Entergy said on Twitter that there was “no risk” to the public or company employees.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit