UK & World News
New York Storm: Mayor Orders Fuel Rationing
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered fuel rationing based on vehicle registration plates after the city was hit by its second severe storm in just over a week.
It comes as heavy snow fell across much of the northeastern US - bringing yet more misery for hundreds of thousands of people still without power since Sandy hit on October 29.
Mr Bloomberg announced at a news conference that drivers will be allowed to buy petrol on alternating days based on whether their licence plate ends in odd or even numbers.
"This is not a step that we take lightly," he said.
"Only 25% of our gas stations we estimate are open. Frustrations are only growing and it now appears there will be shortages for possibly another couple weeks."
He did not say when the measure would end.
Officials hoped the move would cut enormous lines of increasingly desperate drivers at city petrol stations - a shortage that has created a black market where unscrupulous online sellers offer fuel at more than twice the industry rate.
New York City has been hard hit by fuel shortages since Sandy struck on October 29 due to power cuts and petrol that has been stranded at refineries.
A second coastal storm, known as a nor'easter, struck on Wednesday bringing snow, rain and high winds - further hampering efforts to get the city's infrastructure back online.
The rationing plan, which follows a rationing programme similar to one implemented in New Jersey last week, begins on Friday at 6am local time (11am UK time).
Long Island will also impose the rationing system, which will begin on Friday at 5am local time.
The system will mean licence plates ending in a letter are eligible to buy fuel on odd-numbered days.
Emergency vehicles, buses, taxis and certain other vehicles are exempt from the rationing system.
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.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that Sandy and its aftermath had caused $50 billion in damage, with New York state bearing $33 billion of that.