us - power back on.

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    ABC Online

    New York City has regained full electrical power, nearly 29 hours after the US metropolis found itself blacked out.

    Officials say the blackout is the worst in North American history.

    Michael Clendenin, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison power company, says full power has been restored to all its customers in New York City and Westchester.

    The fault knocked out power to New York City, Detroit, Cleveland, Ottawa, Toronto and a number of smaller cities. Many sections of the cities are still without power.

    In Cleveland, the blackout shut all four major water pumping stations and the National Guard had to truck in drinking water.

    Thousands of people slept on the streets of Manhattan last night, unable to return to their homes and hotel rooms.

    US President George W Bush has spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien by phone about a joint task force set up to examine the blackout.


    Mr Bush says the inquiry must find out why yesterday's outages cascaded so quickly through much of the north-eastern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario, affecting about 50 million people.

    The President has also been briefed by Treasury officials on how financial markets are holding up, as well as the work done to make sure hospitals in areas still blacked out have the supplies they need.

    New York State Governor George Pataki has praised the efforts of power workers to restore electricity to about 80 per cent of the region in less than 30 hours.

    Mr Pataki has also praised New Yorkers for the way they handled the crisis.

    "Ordinary citizens have responded in a way that's expected of New Yorkers but really goes above and beyond," he said.

    "Last night, despite the fact that more than 10 million New Yorkers had no power through the entire night, there were no incidents that required any state assistance to local governments - that has continued today."

    Mr Bush has led a chorus of officials and experts who believe the system had not been upgraded to meet increased power demands.

    Wake-up call

    "I knew it was a wake-up call - I've been concerned that our infrastructure, the delivery system, is old and antiquated," Mr Bush said.

    The Mayor of Toronto in Canada, Mel Lastman, believes his city has had its fair share of recent troubles, with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bushfires and mad cow disease still in people's memories.

    "What Toronto has been through in the last few months has been unbelievable and the people of Toronto have once again stepped up to the challenge with the greatest spirit that I have ever seen in any city," he said.

    There is not much sympathy for the American power crisis on the streets of Baghdad, where power has been intermittent for months.

    "We say God help the Iraqis who have suffered long years under the Baath Party and here are the Americans after 16 hours of no electricity running around the streets like crazy people," one Iraqi questioned about the situation said.

    "It is [a] country that doesn't even have patience for just 16 hours while we have been suffering 35 years - we are just thankful to be alive."

    At the peak of the blackout, members of the public volunteered to act as traffic police, with one man in particular pleased with his new role.

    "I actually play a cop on TV, I play an FBI agent on the Sopranos and now I'm playing a traffic cop in New York, it's the greatest role," he said.

    "This is such a great role, it's the role of a lifetime, a blackout in New York city, I've been waiting for this."

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