Updated: 15/03/17 : 07:52:02
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World :: State of Emergency declared across US states as snowstorms hit

The north-eastern US states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia have declared states of emergency as a huge winter storm sweeps in, bringing heavy snow.

The US National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from eastern Pennsylvania to south-west Maine.

Schools are closed and thousands of flights have been cancelled.

The conditions caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone a trip to Washington to meet President Trump.

It has now been rescheduled for Friday.

Authorities in the state of New Hampshire say a 16-year-old girl died after losing control of her car and crashing into a tree around 07:00 local time on Tuesday morning.

The girl, whose name is being withheld, was transported to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

With winds of up to 60mph (100km/h), the storm is causing severe disruption for commuters across many parts of the north-east, and authorities in several states are advising residents to stay off the roads.

In all, about 50 million people across the country have been warned about the severe weather.

There has also been heavy snow in other parts of the country. In the state of Wisconsin, four people aged over 60 died in separate incidents while shovelling snow, according US media.

Less snow than originally anticipated is now expected to fall in New York City, with the forecast downgraded to between 4 and 8 inches (10-20cm) by the US National Weather Service.

However, up to two feet of snow was still expected in other parts of New York state, the service said.

"During its height we could see snowfall rates of 1-3 inches (2.5-7.6cm), even up to four inches per hour," said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist based in Taunton, Massachusetts.

More than 6,800 flights have been cancelled, tracking service FlightAware reported, with airports in New York, Washington, Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia worst hit.

Two US Congressmen from Texas - one Democrat and one Republican - decided to make the drive back to Washington from their home districts near the southern border together, after their flights were canceled.

Representatives Beto O'Rourke and Will Hurd are taking turns driving, as the other films Periscope and Facebook live broadcasts, which they have dubbed a "cross country bipartisan townhall".

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is praising the city's "cowboy officer" who wrangled two ponies after they got loose from their enclosure and began roaming the streets of Staten Island.

NYPD chief of patrol Terence Monahan says the officer used tow truck straps to tie the animals to a street pole until backup could arrive to transport them back to their stables.