The death toll from Hurricane Sandy in the United States rose to 76 on Thursday with the discovery of more bodies amid the wreckage, while estimates of the economic cost of the storm now stand at anywhere from $30 billion to $50 billion.

The new estimate came from IHS Global Insight, which attributes much of the losses to the paralysis of economic activity in the New York metropolitan area.

The Wall Street Journal calculates that insurers will have to pay out some $20 billion in claims.

One must also add the losses caused by the slowdown of roughly 70 percent in oil refinery operations along the U.S. East Coast and the two days of virtually complete business shutdown across the region.

In all, these costs could represent as much as 0.3 percent of U.S. GDP, although some of that would be compensated for by the economic activity that reconstruction work would generate.

The U.S. Energy Department reported Thursday that about 4.9 million homes are still without power in the Northeast.

New York, where 37 of the 76 confirmed deaths occurred, on Thursday recovered a good part of its public transportation services with the partial reopening of 14 subway lines, but the city continues working to return basic services to local residents.

Meanwhile, the city's three airports - Liberty Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy - have resumed their operations, although there are still many flight delays and cancellations. EFE