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US Digs Out After Massive Snowstorm

Hundreds of cars have been stranded on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, February 2, 2011

Millions of people in a number of U.S. states are digging out Thursday from a massive snowstorm that caused thousands of flights to be canceled, stranded motorists, and left hundreds of thousands without power.

Crews were clearing highways littered with stranded vehicles and working to restore power, while airports are trying to resume normal schedules. More than 2,000 flights were canceled by mid-day Thursday, in addition to the several thousand canceled earlier in the week.

Officials are investigating at least seven possible weather-related deaths. At least three people died in the central state of Oklahoma when their truck plunged off a bridge into frigid waters.

U.S. President Barack Obama has declared that an emergency exists in Oklahoma, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide aid and emergency supplies to residents affected by the winter storm.

Heavy snow is blamed for several roof collapses in the northeast, where ice has coated roads and sidewalks. Authorities in the southwestern state of Texas have implemented rolling blackouts to deal with the high demands for electricity.

In Chicago, Illinois, one of the hardest hit areas, more than 50 centimeters of snow and hurricane strength winds created snow drifts more than one meter high.

Schools in Chicago closed Wednesday, and again Thursday, for the first time in 12 years because of the blizzard.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP Reuters.