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Snowstorm in US leaves trail of death

Mayor says New York has ‘dodged a bullet’

School buses covered in snow after a winter storm in Hartford, Connecticut, yesterday. Photo: PA

School buses covered in snow after a winter storm in Hartford, Connecticut, yesterday. Photo: PA

At least eight people have died in the massive snowstorm that has swept through the US northeast and Canada.

About 510,000 homes and businesses remained without power late on Saturday night, down from a total of about 650,000.

Roads across the New York-to-Boston corridor of roughly 25 million people were impassable.

Cars were entombed by drifts and some people found the wet, heavy snow packed so high against their homes they could not get their doors open.

There were three feet of snow across much of the region, and emergency crews used snow-mobiles to reach shivering motorists stranded overnight on New York’s Long Island.

At least five deaths in the US were blamed on the snowstorm, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm while his father shovelled snow. There were also three deaths in Canada.

One pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and killed on Friday night in Connecticut, and a 23-year-old New York man ploughing his driveway with a tractor went off the edge of the road and was killed.

Blowing with hurricane-force winds of more than 80 mph in places, the storm hit hard along the heavily-populated Interstate 95 corridor between New York City and Maine.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee warned that while the snow had stopped, the danger had not passed. He said: “People need to take this storm seriously, even after it’s over. If you have any kind of heart condition, be careful with the shovelling.”

The storm was not as bad as the Blizzard of ‘78, used by long-time New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city had “dodged a bullet” and its streets were “in great shape”.

The three major airports – LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, New Jersey – were up and running by late morning after shutting down the evening before. Boston’s Logan Airport had not resumed operations.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island imposed travel bans until 4pm to keep cars off the roads and let the snow ploughs do their work.

The National Guard helped clear roads in Connecticut, where more than 240 accidents were reported. The Guardsmen rescued about 90 motorists, including a few who had hypothermia and were taken to hospitals.

On Long Island, which got more than 2.5 feet of snow, hundreds of drivers spent a cold and scary night stuck on the highways.

Even snowploughs got bogged down or were blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers used snowmobiles to try to reach motorists, many of whom were still waiting to be rescued hours after the snow had stopped.

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