US alarmed as hurricane bears down

US alarmed as hurricane bears down

US alarmed as hurricane bears down

EPA Photo

Winter has made an early appearance in the eastern United States and in Europe this year due to recent hurricanes and strong winds, claiming lives and forcing people to stock food and supplies while remaining in their homes.

Snow and gales hit France and Switzerland over the weekend, possibly leading to the death of a homeless man in Paris, while searches continued for a missing windsurfer and a 12-year-old British boy who vanished Oct. 27. It is believed that he was swept away by strong winds. Freezing temperatures killed three men in Poland. Police said two of the men had been under the influence of alcohol and the third man was said to be homeless, according to the Polish press agency PAP. The homeless man, said to be in poor health, was found dead in northern Paris where temperatures dipped to near zero degrees Celsius, far below the usual seasonal 7 degrees Celsius seen this time of year.

Hurricane-force winds lashed southern France, damaging a ferry off Marseille that slipped its anchor and hit a quay. Almost 30,000 households in the south of France were without power. In Switzerland trees were toppled by winds, rail services were interrupted.

Hurricane Sandy, a mammoth storm menacing the East Coast, took aim at the most densely populated U.S. region yesterday, forcing hundreds of thousands to seek higher ground, halting public transport and closing schools and government departments. About 50 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada are in the path of the storm, which forecasters say could be the largest ever to hit the U.S. Sandy, which killed 66 people in the Caribbean, will cause extensive flooding when it moves inland, forecasters said.
Flights canceled

New York and other cities and towns closed their transit systems and ordered mass evacuations from low-lying areas.

Turkish Airlines has cancelled all flights to New York and Washington due to severe weather conditions, according to Doğan news agency. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also to cancelled all flights to East Coast cities.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of some 375,000 people from low-lying areas of the city, from upscale parts of lower Manhattan to waterfront housing projects in the outer boroughs. All U.S. stock markets would be closed yesterday and possibly today, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange said late Oct. 28. Officials ordered people in coastal towns and low-lying areas to evacuate, often telling them they would put the lives of emergency workers at risk if they stayed. “Don’t be stupid, get out and go to higher, safer ground,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told residents.

Compiled from AFP and Reuter stories by the Daily News staff.