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Weather

Travel chaos after massive snowstorm hits northeastern US

A major snowstorm in the northeastern United States has disrupted thousands of flights and brought transportation to a halt. Several people have been killed and more than half a million left without power.

From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, the northeast United States was left covered in up to 3 feet (1 meter) of snow on Saturday, cutting travel and power links for a second day.

Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts bore the brunt of the storm with Milford, Connecticut, reporting 38 inches (95 cm) of snow.

Massive snowstorm hits northeastern US

Local officials in New York State said a 74-year-old man was killed Saturday when a driver lost control of her car and hit him in the town of Poughkeepsie. Another motorist was killed in Auburn, New Hampshire when his car went off the road, although state authorities said his health may have been a contributing factor.

According to news agency AFP, a boy in Massachusetts died after inhaling carbon monoxide from an exhaust pipe that had been blocked by the snow.

Severe weather forced the cancellation of at least 3,000 flights across the northeast. Heavy snow and hurricane-force winds forced New York - one of the world's busiest air travel hubs - to suspend all operations at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International airports until early Saturday. All three airports have since allowed some passenger jets to land, although major delays were reported.

Major power outages were also recorded. According to utility companies in the region more than 600,000 customers were left without electricity when heavy snow brought down trees and power lines.

On Friday, a power cut to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, forced it to automatically shut down. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that there was no threat to the public.

Travel 'extremely hazardous'

The states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine had all been in a state of emergency since Friday. Driving restrictions put in place in a number of states were then extended on Saturday after the National Weather Service put severe weather warnings in place.

"In addition to the heavy snowfall, wind gusts of up to hurricane force are possible, especially near the coast," the weather service warned. "This will result in blizzard conditions with drifting and blowing snow."

Travel at night "will be extremely hazardous, if not impossible," it added.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick ordered all regular traffic off state roads, with the threat of up to a year in jail for violators. In Connecticut, meanwhile, Governor Dannel Malloy closed the state's highways to all but emergency vehicles.

The storm has come just over three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey, killing 132 people and amassing damages worth more than $71.4 billion (53.4 billion euros).

ccp/hc (AFP, Reuters)

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