U.S. authorities have ordered more than 2 million people living along the eastern coast to evacuate their homes and move farther inland to avoid a powerful hurricane.
Hurricane Irene, with winds of 150 kilometers per hour, struck the mid-Atlantic coast state of North Carolina on August 27 and is expected to reach New York City on August 28.
U.S. President Barack Obama has personally appealed for citizens to take the evacuation order seriously.
"I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now," Obama said.
New York City alone has ordered more than 300,000 people who live in flood-prone areas to leave their homes and will shut down its mass-transit system.
U.S. airlines have canceled at least 6,100 flights through August 29.
compiled from agency reports