Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Malaysian students safe, says embassy official

KUALA LUMPUR: HURRICANE Sandy, reclassified as super storm Sandy by the US National Hurricane Center, made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone on the southern coast of New Jersey around 8pm (US time) last night with sustained winds of 129kph.

A Malaysian Embassy spokesman in Washington said as of 11pm (US time), wind gusts were reported to be at 105kph and were expected to increase to over 120kph overnight.

"Blizzard conditions and heavy snowfall have been reported in some areas in the state of West Virginia and Maryland, apart from heavy downpour and wind."

He added widespread power outages have been reported in all states affected by the super storm and according to local reports, about 3.1 million people were left without electricity in New Jersey,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.
A total of 134,000 cases of power outage have been recorded so far.

"The Federal Government offices in Washington will continue to be closed until further notice. Public transport authorities have suspended Metro rail and bus services as well. Schools and universities remain closed for the second day."

He said the mission and national education agencies such as Education Malaysia, Mara and the Public Service Department were in close contact with students in the affected areas.

"As of 9pm (US time), there were no reports of emergencies involving Malaysian students due to the superstorm. We will continue to monitor developments on the situation and update accordingly."

In New York, millions of people in the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to flooded homes, fallen trees and widespread power outages. The storm swamped New York City's subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan's financial district.

Reuters reported that at least 15 people were killed in one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country.
More than 1 million people in a dozen states were under orders to evacuate as the massive system plowed westward.

One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately hit US$20 billion (RM61 billion).

The storm interrupted the presidential campaign a week before Election Day and closed US financial markets for two days.

Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 4.2m to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record 3m during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the 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.

Malaysian students in New York, meanwhile, have gathered in a group (Malaysians in NYC) to share and update their loved ones at home on the situation at hand.

Another group in Washington DC have posted the happenings on Facebook while others tweeted updates from wherever they were based.

A Malaysian student, Nadia Jomo said the television, networking sites and social media were the most sought after for the latest information on the storm.

Nadia is sheltering at the United Nations headquarters in the midtown east area of NYC.

"But this may not be for too long if there is a power outage, because in many areas the power has already shutdown.

"Batteries are an option but it's better to keep those for emergencies," she said, adding that one of the places was East Village in downtown NYC, where her brother lived.

Nadia said heavy rain and strong winds had caused flooding at her current location.
"It has been raining for hours now," she said from her FB wall.

She also said the first official death in NYC was a 30-year-old man who got hit by a tree that landed on his house at East Flushing in Queens.

At 12.19pm (Malaysian time), Nadia said there were 10 deaths in the region so far.

She added an explosion had occurred in Manhattan, and news confirmed that a transformer at the Con Edison plant on 14th Street in Lower Manhattan had exploded.

Source : NewStraitsTimes


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