The United States is preparing for the worst once the waters recede from the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Officially more than 200 people have lost their lives but the final death toll could run into the thousands. The US has accepted the United Nations’ proposed aid package. The European Union will also be providing assistance.
Coastguard helicopters are hovering over devastated neighbourhoods and continuing to pick up survivors from rooftops. Several looters taking advantage of the chaos were killed in a shootout with New Orleans police. A rescue helicopter crashed in the city but the crew escaped unhurt. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has moved to counter criticism of the government’s response to the disaster. She has also brushed off suggestions that the administration would have acted differently had many of the victims not been poor and black. “Clearly older people and sick people, it was hard for them to get out of places like New Orleans and we have to go back and take a look at all of that,” she said. “But what I think we would need to do right now is we just need to pull together as a country, try to get through this crisis period and then start helping people to rebuild their lives.”