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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:13, September 06, 2005
Bush to visit hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast as rescuers continue search for victims
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US President George W. Bush was due to visit the devastated US Gulf Coast on Monday as rescuers were making a house-to-house search for survivors and the dead from Hurricane Katrina.

Bush planned to inspect the relief operations in Louisiana and Mississippi, his second trip to the disaster areas in less than a week.

After the president first toured the devastated region on Friday, he signed a special 10.5 billion US dollar aid package for hurricane victims and ordered more than 7,000 troops to reinforce the National Guard deployed in the US Gulf coast.

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton had urged Bush to set up a "Katrina Commission" similar to the 9/11 Commission to probe the administration's response to the hurricane, one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

Earlier on Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had defended the administration's handling of the disaster after their own visits to the stricken areas.

Emergency teams in boats and helicopters continued searching flooded homes and streets in the worst-hit city of New Orleans, Louisiana, for survivors and corpses as authorities said on Sunday that 59 bodies had been recovered. And over 100 deaths had been confirmed in Mississippi, with many people unaccounted for.

The final death toll was expected to rise into the thousands.

Local officials believed thousands were still trapped in New Orleans, which lies below sea level, despite mass evacuations before and after Katrina hammered the once vibrant jazz capital on Aug. 25.

Authorities were slowly regaining control of the much-loved Southern city days after it fell into chaos and was being swamped by floodwaters when protective levees burst.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said it was making progress in pumping out the city but still expected it would take 80 days or more to complete the job.

Meanwhile, 10 evacuees arrived in Southern California Sunday from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and were to stay at the Los Angeles Dream Center for up to six months.

The evacuees, the first of some 300 expected to be put up at the old Queen of Angels hospital, arrived on a private jet, a local television channel reported.

"We were like living in Vietnam, a war zone," one woman told Fox 11 channel. "I'm handicapped. I can't fight nobody. I'm sleeping in the dark with a hammer and a bat."

Clint Carlton of the Dream Center, which has about 1,000 rooms, said his organization agreed to house up to 300 evacuees in the 14-story former hospital for up to six months.

Another flight is due to arrive Monday, he said.

The evacuees said they had lost their homes and everything they own, but were grateful to have their lives, a roof over their heads, food, water and clothing.

After getting situated, they said their first order of business would be to contact worried relatives.

The Dream Center, a faith-based organization with affiliates in the Gulf states, had offered help for evacuees from its Los Angeles affiliate and extended an invitation for them to stay at the center as long as they need.

Source: Xinhua


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