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Paris (AFP) Nov 07, 2012
At least 600 French nationals who went to New York for the city's marathon are seeking compensation from travel agents who they say should have known Hurricane Sandy would lead to the race's cancellation, their lawyer said Wednesday.
They want to be repaid the roughly 3,000 euros ($3,800) they spent on a package that included flights and hotel room, and damages of 2,000 euros per runner and 1,000 euros for accompanying friends or relatives, said Dimitri Pincent.
He said a formal demand for compensation had been sent to the two main travel agents involved, Thomas Cook and France Marathon. He added that he expected more disappointed runners to join the group making the claim.
"Before leaving, everybody was asking whether it was technically and morally acceptable to run in New York," but the information provided by the firms was "extremely limited and tendentious", said Pincent.
Some runners phoned their travel agents before departure to ask if they should travel to New York and "they were told 'you have to go, otherwise we will not reimburse you'", said the lawyer.
There was no immediate reaction from the two travel firms.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cancelled the annual race -- which draws around 45,000 runners -- two days before it was slated to be held last Sunday.
He had earlier sought to allow it to go ahead, but a chorus of opposition grew in the days after Sandy hit the area, with local politicians, media and even runners calling for the event to be cancelled or postponed.
Sandy slammed 15 eastern US states and prompted a huge tidal surge that killed at least 109 people in the United States and Canada and caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage.
The coastal regions of New York and New Jersey were hit hardest when Sandy crashed ashore on October 29.
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