US & Canada

Bloomberg under pressure to postpone NYC marathon

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Media captionThe BBC's Mike Wooldridge: "In some places frustration is now boiling over"

New York City politicians and others are calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to postpone the city's marathon on Sunday in the wake of the storm, Sandy.

The mayor defended his decision in a news conference on Friday, saying the marathon would give the cyclone-ravaged city "something to cheer about".

The event starts in Staten Island, which bore the brunt of the storm.

More than 90 deaths in the US have been blamed on Sandy, and 3.5 million people still have no electricity.

There are 1.2 million homes and businesses in New York state alone that remain without power. Utility officials say it could take weeks to restore some connections.

Reuters news agency is reporting that New York authorities are discussing whether or not to go ahead with the marathon.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Bloomberg said resources would not be taken away from those in need.

"There will be no diversion of resources," he said. "The marathon's not going to redirect any focus."

But elected officials representing Staten Island were among the harshest critics of Mayor Bloomberg's decision to allow the event to go ahead.

"We're still pulling bodies out of the water and the mayor is worried about marathon runners and returning to life as normal," US Representative Michael Grimm, who represents the island and part of Brooklyn, told CNN.

"The Verrazano Bridge should be used for getting fuel and food in to Staten Island, not getting runners out. Police resources would be best allocated to prevent looting and in rescue and recovery operations."

Rep Grimm was joined by other local politicians, including both Republicans and Democrats, in calling for the race to be postponed.

"The decision to move forward with the marathon is not a decision I would have made," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

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Media captionTime-lapse footage shows Sandy's passage over New York City - Footage courtesy New York Times/ Antoine Roux

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said he had changed his mind on Friday.

"After visiting shelters around the city," he said, "seeing the devastation in Staten Island and Breezy Point and knowing that people are trapped in buildings on the Lower East Side and we cannot get to them, this is not the time."

Councilmember James Oddo tweeted that if one first responder was taken from Staten Island to cover the marathon, "I will scream".

Some runners who have signed up for the race told local website Gothamist that they would volunteer on Staten Island instead.

Meanwhile, the marathon expo in a Manhattan convention centre was criticised after its background music included the heavy metal song, Rock You Like a Hurricane.