Under fierce criticism over his government’s handling of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, George W Bush has made a second trip to the stricken Gulf Coast states. In New Orleans alone, up to 10,000 people could have been killed according to the city’s mayor.
The US president who is suffering from the lowest popularity ratings ever, told officials in Mississippi: “You know it’s easy for me to say that I can see a better tomorrow, because I haven’t been living what you’ve been living through. But I do, that’s what you’ve got to know, and out of the darkness will come some light.” The thousands of bodies recovered will now be identified and returned to their families. They have been transported in refrigerated lorries to a warehouse in the small town of St Gabriel, a former leper colony some 100 kilometres from New Orleans. The identification process is due to start today.
On the ground, where the rescue operation continues for all those who remain stranded a week after Katrina struck, authorities now fear the spread of disease in flood waters contaminated with sewage and dead bodies.
Hundreds of soldiers and police have been deployed across the city to try to prevent looting and violence. At least two armed men were shot dead in New Orleans on Sunday. Meanwhile, engineers continue to try to plug the city’s dams with giant sandbags using Chinook helicopters – as other aircraft bring aid to those stranded without food or drink.
According to the New York Times, up to one third of Louisiana’s soldiers have been unable to attend rescue operations as they are mobilised in Iraq.