Power outage in New York as 'Hurricane Sandy' plunged Manhattan into darkness

New York City looks like the set of a disaster movie this morning after a night of being battered by Superstorm Sandy.

It hit the mainland at 6.30pm local time last night having laid waste to large parts of the coast during the day. The US city shut its mass transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway, and ordered hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to leave home to get out of the way as Sandy zeroed in.

A 13ft wall of water caused by the storm surge and high tides resulted in severe flooding to subways and road tunnels. Torrents of water poured into building works at Ground Zero, cars were swept down streets and power was cut across lower Manhattan in a bid to minimise damage to infrastructure.

Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to at least 6.2million people across the US East, and large sections of Manhattan were plunged into darkness by the storm, with 250,000 customers without power as water pressed into the island from three sides, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads.

Sandy smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of 85mph. Sixteen deaths were reported in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Seven New York City subway tunnels were flooded by the morning. At least five deaths were reported in New York. Some of the victims were killed by falling trees and at least one death was blamed on the storm in Canada.

Storm damage was projected at up to £12million, meaning it could be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history. Nineteen workers were trapped inside a Consolidated Edison power station in east Manhattan by rising floodwaters, with a rescue worker saying it had suffered an explosion inside.