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Eastern US Slowly Digging Out from Blizzard

A passenger from San Francisco talks on his phone while a British Airways airplane sits motionless on the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, 27 Dec 2010

Airlines are struggling to catch up with a massive backlog of passengers, after a snowstorm in the eastern United States forced the cancelation of thousands of flights, creating long travel delays.

Frustrated travelers have been stranded for days at airports in New York and New Jersey.

Some passengers may have to wait several more days because airlines had already booked many flights to capacity during the busy, Christmas-to-New Year's holiday season. U.S. airlines had also cut back on the number of scheduled flights during the economic downturn.

The blizzard Sunday dumped some 60-90 centimeters of snow along the eastern seaboard. Clean-up continues in New York City and other parts of the region.

Winds up to 128 kilometers per hour left large snow drifts. Trains were stopped on snowy and icy rails, and buses and cars were stuck in snowbanks.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is using all its resources and many more it borrowed or hired to clear its five districts. He said a lot of work remains. The mayor said there were tragedies because of the storm, as blocked roads delayed emergency vehicles, sometimes for hours.

More than 6,000 flights were canceled on Sunday and Monday.

Some flights arriving in New York saw delays after long journeys from Asia, Europe and elsewhere. Passengers on several flights were stuck on planes for hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport, waiting for gates to become available.

In all, six states - Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia - declared emergencies.

The storm later moved into the Canadian maritime provinces, where it dumped more snow.

While the effects of the blizzard were pronounced for travelers and businesses, most U.S. schoolchildren are on vacation during the holiday season and many adults often take time off from work as well. Many children and adults did enjoy the snow - playing, sledding and doing other outdoor activities.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.