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Death toll in US winter storm rises to 32

The death toll in the brutal winter storm sweeping across the eastern parts of the USA rose to 31 on Sunday

The death toll in the brutal winter storm sweeping across the eastern parts of the USA rose to 31 on Sunday as heavy snow and extreme cold brought life to standstill in the affected areas.

Buffalo, in western New York, plunged into a deep crisis as a blizzard has left the city marooned, with emergency services unable to reach high impact areas, according to an AFP report

“It is (like) going to a warzone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, where eight-foot snow drifts and power outages have hit the population during Christmas.

Hochul told reporters on Sunday evening that residents were still in the throes of a “very dangerous life-threatening situation” and warned anyone in the area to remain indoors.

Total flight delays within, into or out of the US amounted to about 4,000 as of Saturday morning, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, which showed that total US flight cancellations stood at around 2,000, according to a CNN report.

Plummeting temperatures were predicted to bring the coldest Christmas Eve on record to several cities from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

More than 200,000 people across several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had their holiday travel plans cancelled. However, there were signs that the storm that has been lashing the region over the week is weakening.

Thirty-one weather-related deaths have been confirmed across nine states, including four in Colorado who likely died of exposure and at least 12 in New York state, where officials warned the number would likely rise, the AFP report said.

The National Weather Service warned that blizzard conditions in western New York’s Great Lakes region caused by lake-effect snow was continuing Sunday, with “additional snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet through tonight.”

Drivers were being warned not to take to the roads — even as the nation reached what is usually its busiest time of year for travel.

The extreme weather has severely taxed electricity grids, with multiple power providers urging millions of people to reduce usage to minimize rolling blackouts in places like North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Canada’s British Columbia, a bus accident on Saturday caused by heavy snow on the roads left four people dead and 53 injured, some of whom are in a critical condition in hospital.