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New York rations gasoline, electric outages mount
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Nov 8, 2012

EU offers 6 mn euros to help Caribbean after Sandy
Brussels (AFP) Nov 08, 2012 - The European Commission offered six billion euros Thursday to help Caribbean countries devastated by Hurricane Sandy which caused massive damage and heavy loss of life.

It said Cuba and Haiti were the worst affected while the Dominican Republic and Jamaica also suffered significantly, with the loss of crops stoking fears over food supplies while houses and infrastructure were destroyed.

The immediate priorities are access to food and to safe water, to avoid waterborne diseases and, in countries affected by cholera, to avoid an upsurge of cases, it said in a statement.

"Hurricane Sandy is yet another example of the increasing intensity of natural disasters to which even the best prepared like the United States are not immune," it said.

Haiti, still struggling to recover from a deadly 2010 earthquake, was also hit earlier this year by drought and a cholera epidemic, it noted.

Sandy crashed through the Caribbean before winding its way up the US east coast earlier this month, leaving a trail of death and heavy damage in its wake.

No power for tens of thousands in Argentine capital
Buenos Aires (AFP) Nov 8, 2012 - Argentine authorities on Thursday scrambled to find the cause of a blackout that left tens of thousands of Buenos Aires customers without power for more than 24 hours.

The blackout, which struck late Wednesday in the middle of a heat wave, at first left 3.4 million customers without power. By Thursday 200,000 were still in the dark.

"We have not found a cause that could have justified" the blackout, said Planning Minister Julio de Vido, suggesting that sabotage may have played a role.

"The situation was striking because the (main power) line was operating at half of its capacity," said de Vido. "We cannot blame the heat wave."

De Vido said the government was trying to find out "who pulled the switch, who interrupted power service," and would file a criminal complaint "for the possible commission of the crime of a partial or total destruction of the electric energy service."

"No hypothesis is being ruled out," said Alejandra Martinez, a spokesperson with the EDESUR utility company.

New York announced gasoline rationing Thursday to address a fuel crisis sparked by superstorm Sandy, as tens of thousands more people lost electricity and officials prepared to deploy emergency mobile homes.

Echoing 1970s energy shortages, America's biggest city and financial capital was to restrict sales starting at 6:00 am (1100 GMT) Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced. He did not say when the measure would end.

Cars with license plates ending in odd numbers will be allowed to fill up on odd-numbered dates. Cars with plates ending in an even number or a zero will be eligible on even-numbered days, with police deployed to enforce the rules.

Officials hoped the move would cut enormous lines of increasingly desperate drivers at city gas stations, a shortage that has created a black market where unscrupulous online sellers offer fuel at more than twice the industry rate.

A similar scheme was earlier implemented in neighboring New Jersey after hurricane-strength Sandy, accompanied by severe flooding, wrecked crucial infrastructure last week.

However, Bloomberg's announcement, which does not affect medical, commercial and emergency services vehicles, came as a surprise.

"This is not a step that we take lightly," Bloomberg told a press conference, noting that other measures, including streamlining procedures for tanker deliveries in ports, had been inadequate.

"Only 25 percent of our gas stations we estimate are open," he conceded. "Frustrations are only growing and it now appears there will be shortages for possibly another couple weeks."

In the wider New York urban area, as many as 38 percent of stations are out of order, US Department of Energy figures showed.

There was more bad news for the New York area with a spike in power outages as a result of a brief, but snowy storm that struck Wednesday, coming hard on the heels of Sandy.

The US Department of Energy said that a total of 761,418 homes and businesses across six states were in the dark. This was 110,000 more than before the Nor'easter storm struck.

New York and New Jersey have been hardest hit over the last 10 days, with 343,211 customers left without power in New York state alone.

More than 110 people died across the US northeast during Sandy, which began as a deadly Caribbean hurricane before driving into New Jersey on October 29. In New York City, authorities reported that the local death toll reached 41 when an elderly man was found dead in his building.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that Sandy and its aftermath had caused $50 billion in damage, with New York state bearing $33 billion of that.

The Nor'easter, which brought record snowfall for this season of 4.7 inches (11.9 centimeters) in New York's Central Park, added "insult to injury," Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that trailers would be brought soon to the New York area for people forced to leave their homes.

"We're actually moving now manufactured housing to the area. We don't have specific locations yet," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said.

The Nor'easter, with driving rain and snow, was much less strong but spread misery in a region where the National Guard and local emergency services are still handing out hundreds of thousands of meals, blankets, water and other vital supplies.

However, with the snow melting and better weather forecast for the coming days, recovery efforts were expected to pick up again quickly.

Airlines that shut down flights around New York on Wednesday were running normally again. John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports all had minimal delays, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.


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French seek compensation for cancelled New York marathon
Paris (AFP) Nov 07, 2012
At least 600 French nationals who went to New York for the city's marathon are seeking compensation from travel agents who they say should have known Hurricane Sandy would lead to the race's cancellation, their lawyer said Wednesday. They want to be repaid the roughly 3,000 euros ($3,800) they spent on a package that included flights and hotel room, and damages of 2,000 euros per runner and ... read more

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