Devastated New York cancels marathon


The famed New York marathon slated for Sunday has been canceled in the face of a rising death toll, crippled city infrastructure and widespread fuel shortages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.

Even though electricity finally returned to swaths of the Big Apple, parts of the city continued to struggle to recover from the devastation that killed at least 95 people in 15 states and in Canada.

The toll in New York City alone rose to 41 and at least 14 died in neighboring New Jersey, where searches of isolated areas are ongoing.

There was a glimmer of good news as power returned to 90,000 customers in Manhattan, amounting to almost half of the residences still left in the dark since Sandy struck.

People in the streets of lower Manhattan cheered as the lights gradually came back on. Full power was expected to return to the city’s richest and most densely populated borough over the weekend.

However, widespread outages continued in other parts of the city, as well as in New Jersey. Tensions were laid bare as fights erupted in huge queues at the few gas stations still functioning, with some cities in the New York region rationing fuel even for emergency services.

One man in New York’s Queens borough who tried to drive his BMW vehicle ahead of others in line was charged with pulling a gun on another driver.

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Amid the city’s struggles, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed his earlier position that the city’s marathon should go ahead as a sign of resilience.

He had been under growing pressure from critics who said the marathon would divert badly needed police and other resources.

“The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” he said in a surprise statement.

The cancelation of the 40-year-old event was cheered by New Yorkers who organized a social media campaign accusing the authorities of being out of touch.

Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners organizing group, was disappointed but philosophical about the turn of events.

“The best thing for New York and the best thing for the marathon for the future is unfortunately to move on,” Wittenberg said. “This isn’t the year or the time to run it.”

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