The Consolidated Edison company has proclaimed that electricity supplies have been reconnected to its 3.

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1 million customers in the New York region, almost 29 hours after the power cut began.

But local authorities have urged the public to save power amid fears of new blackouts in New York and other affected cities.

The neon signs are again lighting Times Square, but the city’s subway system remains closed and isn’t expected to reopen until sometime over the weekend.

Thousands of stranded people slept on the streets of New York Thursday night, where authorities reported just a single death blamed on the blackouts, after a man suffered a heart attack in a fire.

Officials have also warned that sewage plant failures during the blackout had dumped huge amounts of raw sewage into city waterways. Area beaches are also dangerously contaminated and remain closed to the public.

New York firefighters worked through the previous night freeing terrified people from elevators. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there were about 800 lift rescues and a record number of calls to emergency services.

Meanwhile water shortages hit Detroit and Cleveland in the American midwest and authorities ordered the public to boil the supplies they were receiving.

In Detroit the big three American automakers closed 54 vehicle plants and ordered thousands of workers to stay home, while queues formed outside petrol stations amid fears of shortages.

The US and Canadian governments, who had traded accusations of blame earlier in the day, have now agreed to set up a joint inquiry to find the cause of the crisis. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and US President George W Bush discussed the matter in a 10 minute phone call late Friday.

But many experts say the outages have highlighted the antiquated state of the North American power system, as President said incident was “a wake-up call” to modernise the power grid.

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