(Reuters) - Power was restored on Tuesday to more than half of the 6.7 million homes and businesses along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard hit by Tropical Storm Irene, leaving about 3.3 million without electricity.
Utilities said it could take days to restore electricity in accessible areas and weeks in hardest-hit regions.
The U.S. Department of Energy reported that 3.3 million customers were without power as of 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Tuesday, down from a peak of 6.7 million. The most outages occurred in New York state, where 563,168 customers were still out of power, down from 939,000 on Monday morning.
Tuesday morning's figure implies at least 1.82 million customers had power restored since Monday afternoon, when 5.1 million were without electricity.
Reports from utility companies tallied by Reuters identified at least 2.2 million users without power at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430GMT), but that estimate does not take into account all utilities.
Con Edison said on Tuesday it planned to restore power to all affected New York city customers by late Tuesday night while power may not be fully restored in Westchester county earlier than Thursday night because of the damage Irene caused on local infrastructure.
"Irene took her toll on the trees and the trees took their toll on the power lines," said Chris Olert, a spokesman for Con Edison.
Across the Hudson, New Jersey power provider, PSEG said in a twitter message Hurricane Irene caused the worst power outage in the company's history.
The DOE report on power cuts gives a break out of outages by state. New York and Connecticut -- where the outages were greatest in number -- had more than 500,000 users affected. Connecticut had the biggest percentage of users affected, with one-third of the state's customers without power, the DOE said.
The United Illuminating company reported widespread damage to infrastructure in Connecticut, the government said in its twice-daily report.
Utilities spent the first hours after Irene assessing overall system damage and deciding where to send crews to restore service. Crews were working. In some hard-hit areas, however, the fixes could take weeks.
(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan, Joshua Schneyer, Eileen O'Grady, Bernie Woodall, David Sheppard, Jeanine Prezioso, Anna Driver, Bruce Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)