A major crisis in the US is sparking fears cities will run out of fuel as people stockpile the crucial essential.
States on the east coast are on edge as petrol stations are packed with people desperate to fill up before the supply starts to run dry.
The panic has been sparked after the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas to New Jersey and carries about 45 per cent of fuel that is consumed on the east coast, was victim of a cyberattack that has been linked to criminal gang Darkside.
The shutdown of the biggest fuel pipeline has now entered its fifth day, and a state of emergency has been issued in the states of North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.
This includes temporarily suspending motor vehicle fuel regulations to ensure an adequate fuel supply across the states.
"Today's emergency declaration will help North Carolina prepare for any potential motor vehicle fuel supply interruptions across the state and ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel," Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement.
The federal government has meanwhile loosened rules to make it easier for suppliers to refill storage, including lifting seasonal anti-smog requirements for gasoline and allowing fuel truckers to work for longer hours.
An Emergency Declaration has also been issued by the US Department of Transport for West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
The department said the declaration would give relief to commercial motor vehicle operations and help with the distribution of fuel to affected states.
'This is insane': Photos reveal reality of crisis
Photos on Twitter have revealed the reality of the crisis, which is causing extra panic as people prepare to head on vacation for the US Memorial Day holiday, the unofficial kick-off to the summer travel season.
A sign seen at a BP petrol station in Asheville, North Carolina, says there is a $30 limit on petrol while stating there is no premium fuel.
"Clerk told me they don't know when they'll get their next shipment," a tweet said.
Another showed a couple stockpiling jerry cans, with one woman loading several into the back of the car as a man next to her filled up another at the petrol bowser.
A different photo showed another man filling up a massive tank in a trailer hooked to his car.
"My city is almost completely out of gas and this is why," a woman, who lives in North Carolina, said.
In another tweet the woman posted a photo of a long queue of cars waiting to refuel at a local BP.
"One of the few gas stations here that has gas and there are three lines of people waiting," she wrote.
"I even saw a guy with a truck drive over the grass and skip the line to fill up two of the biggest gas cans I've ever seen plus his truck. Out of control."
Others have commented on Twitter people were starting to panic.
"It's starting to get crazy," one said.
Dave Gussak drove from one station to the next in Tallahassee, Florida, in search of gas, seeing a line about a kilometre long at the pumps outside a Costco.
He eventually passed a station with gas on the way to Florida State University where he works.
“This is insane,” he said.
People warned against hoarding fuel
Motorists may still feel a crunch for days to come, but US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no reason to hoard gasoline.
“We know that we have gasoline; we just have to get it to the right places,” she said.
S&P’s Oil Price Information Service put the number of gas stations encountering shortages at more than 1000.
“A lot of that is because they’re selling three or four times as much gasoline that they normally sell in a given day, because people do panic,” Tom Kloza, an analyst with S&P, said.
“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
In Virginia, 7.7 per cent of the state’s nearly 3900 gas stations reported running out of fuel Tuesday, according to Gasbuddy.com, which tracks supply.
In North Carolina, 8.5 per cent of almost 5400 stations were out, the company said.
There were scattered reports of higher gasoline prices, but prices were rising even before the pipeline incident heading into the busy summer driving season.
Nevertheless, Ms Granholm warned gas station owners: "We will have no tolerance for price gouging."
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