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Home >> World
UPDATED: 14:28, September 24, 2005
Rita maintains Category 3 hurricane, brings floods to New Orleans
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Hurricane Rita remained a Category 3 storm late Friday night as it swirled towards the coast and expected to make landfall early Saturday, causing new flooding in the devastated New Orleans, Louisiana.

According to the latest update of the US National Hurricane Center, Rita maintained a Category 3 hurricane on a five-level scale, with maximum sustained winds of about 192 kph, and was expected to come ashore early Saturday to hit coast oil refining towns in Texas and Louisiana.

As many as 2.8 million people along the Texas-Louisiana coast have fled. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said over 90 percent of residents in the state's southwestern parishes had evacuated.

In New Orleans, which had drained nearly all the floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina, water poured through gaps in the Industrial Canal into the already-devastated Lower Ninth Ward and parts of neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water after its levees were breached by Katrina less than a month ago. Rita's threat forced Mayor Ray Nagin to suspend his plan this week to gradually repopulate the city, although the Army Corps of Engineers had said more than 80 percent of the floodwaters had been pumped out.

Additional flooding brought by Rita might delay the search-and-recovery efforts in the city to a halt, where hundreds of bodies had been uncovered.

Across the Gulf Coast region pounded by Katrina, the total number of confirmed deaths rose to 1,078 as of Friday, with Louisiana's death toll rising to 841.

Earlier in the day, President George W. Bush cancelled a planned stop in San Antonio, Texas, to avoid slowing down the preparations for the hurricane.

The White House canceled the visit because the Federal Emergency Management Agency decided to reposition search-and-rescue teams from San Antonio closer to the storm, said spokesman Scott McClellan.

"We didn't want to slow up that decision in any way. The president made the decision to go straight to Colorado," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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