WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fully 25 percent of cell sites in the broad area hit by former hurricane Sandy were off-line earlier this week, and the outages have been reduced by only "a few percentage points" at this point, a federal official on Wednesday.

Cell sites, which can be towers or smaller facilities to relay wireless calls, were knocked out by power cuts, floods and debris, said David Turetsky, the head of the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

The FCC had estimated that one-quarter of cell sites in the counties that Sandy hit were out of service on Tuesday.

Turetsky said outages by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday were down by roughly three or four percentage points from the peak.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz)

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