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U.S. Health Secretary Puts the Death Toll at Thousands

Posted September. 06, 2005 07:13,   


As evacuation plans continue in New Orleans, Louisiana, the region hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, estimates that the catastrophe might have taken thousands of lives are proving to be a reality.

Dysentery broke out in Biloxi, Mississippi, while there are increasing concerns of an outbreak of water-borne diseases in other inundated areas caused by the West Nile virus and E.coli bacteria.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told CNN in a televised interview on Sunday, “It is clear that this disaster has claimed thousands of lives.” This is the first time a high-level federal official mentioned the death toll.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said, “New Orleans has a population of 500,000, and considering the number of citizens who evacuated from the city before Katrina hit and the displaced citizens who moved into shelters, there is a great possibility that thousands have lost their lives.”

Navy Admiral Craig Vanderwagon confirmed these estimates saying, “One morgue alone, in a prison in New Orleans, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.”

It was confirmed that 152 people in Mississippi and 59 in New Orleans died from the hurricane.

The press expected the death toll to increase dramatically as door-to-door visits are being made for resident evacuation and bodies being collected.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that a total of 151,409 displaced citizens are being accommodated in 563 temporary shelters across 10 states.

Meanwhile, the police are striving to restore strict order in the city. While the police were repairing a bridge in New Orleans, eight unidentified gunmen fired at them, prompting them to shoot back, killing four and injuring another.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com