Sandy strengthens as it approaches US coast; Wall Street shut
NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm bearing down on the US East Coast, strengthened on Monday after hundreds of thousands moved to higher ground, public transport shut down and the US stock market suffered its first weather-related closure in 27 years.
About 50 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada were in the path of the nearly 1,600km-wide storm, which forecasters said could be the largest to hit the mainland in US history. It was expected to topple trees, damage buildings, cause power outages and trigger heavy flooding.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday that the Category 1 storm had strengthened as it turned toward the coast and was moving at 32kmh. It was expected to bring a "life-threatening storm surge", coastal hurricane winds and heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains, the NHC said.
Nine US states have declared states of emergency, and with the US election eight days away President Barack Obama cancelled a campaign event in Florida on Monday in order to return to Washington and monitor the US government's response to the storm.