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Anger mounts in US over storm fuel shortages

world Updated: Nov 02, 2012 21:37 IST

Fuel shortages caused exasperation to spill over into anger on Friday amid a desperate race to get power restored and get stricken US cities moving again after the devastating superstorm Sandy.

Fights erupted in huge queues at the few gasoline stations still operating in the states of New York and New Jersey, with authorities in some towns and cities rationing fuel even for the police.

As the American death toll from Monday's mammoth storm hit 95, authorities said they were putting huge resources into helping the needy, restoring power and getting mass transit moving again.

But fights have broken out at many gasoline stations and people in New York's Staten Island complain that they have been forgotten in the giant rescue operation. The island borough was badly hit by Sandy.

Police were called to several gasoline stations in the New York region to prevent trouble. One man in Queens who tried to push his BMW car into a queue was charged with pulling a gun on another driver.

Many petrol stations have fuel but no electricity to get pumps working nor to handle payments. Some station owners are refusing to open until police are on guard. Drivers say they are waiting up to 10 hours to get gasoline.

At Essex County in New Jersey, authorities were limiting police and fire vehicles to half a tank.

The American Automobile Association estimates that 60% of gas stations in New Jersey and 70% in New York's Long Island are closed. Authorities say 13 of the 34 fuel terminals around New York have no power.

Suffering Manhattan commuters are struggling with "significantly" fewer taxis according to the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The New York City death toll from the storm rose on Friday to 41 and at least 95 people have been killed in the 15 US states battered by Sandy.

Authorities say still more bodies are expected to be found as the search of stricken houses continues.

At least 14 people have been killed in New Jersey state, authorities said.

Getting power back to the population is the other key source of friction. Some people in New York City have been warned they will have to wait until November 11 before getting electricity again.

The Con Edison company said more than 100,000 cases of trees and other objects pulling down overhead power lines have been reported.

In New York, National Guard troops and police are handing out food and water and going into high rise buildings to help the aged and needy.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said that one million homes in the state remain without power.

More than 220,000 people in Manhattan who lost power when a sub-station exploded in the storm are expected to get electricity on Saturday.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has insisted the city's famed international marathon will go ahead as planned on Sunday even though many New Yorkers are complaining about conditions.

With commuters besieging every way to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan, Chris Radditz, part of a team helping to organize passengers for a ferry service said conditions were "insane -- people are very frustrated."

Politicians and community leaders in New York's Staten Island complain that they have been forgotten as aid pours into other districts.

At least 18 people died in Staten Island where huge waves swept away homes.

State Island council president James Molinaro condemned even the lack of help from the Red Cross.

"I went to a shelter Monday night after the storm. People were coming in with no socks, with no shoes. They were in a desperate need. Their housing was destroyed. They were crying. Where was the Red Cross?" he said.

Staten Island has been devastated by tragedies such as the stories of brothers Connor and Brandon Moore, aged four and two, who were swept out of their mother's arms by a wave in the storm.

Their bodies were found in marshland near the seafront on Thursday.

Hurricane Sandy brought devastation throughout the Caribbean, hitting Haiti and Cuba especially hard before slamming into the United States and Canada. The overall death toll from the storm's passage is now at least 166.