Concerns for the health of survivors of Hurricane Katrina are increasing. Five people have died of a bacterial infection contracted through contact with the fetid water. That has raised fears for the 15,000 people holding out in squalid conditions in New Orleans despite evacuation orders.
Warren Riley from the city police said: “We have a major concern because of the high water, the chemicals from the gas tanks leaking, and the decaying bodies that are in the water. We are concerned about e-coli, hepatitis and other things like that.” Police authorities say they will not start forced evacuations until everybody who is willing to go voluntarily is out. While rescue missions are still underway, the search is increasingly coming up with more corpses than survivors. Makeshift morgues have been set up within and outside New Orleans. According to the president of St Bernard Parish east of the city, thirty people drowned in a nursing home in the suburb. Most pumps are out of action, and it is estimated up to 80 days will be needed to drain New Orleans and surrounding areas. With the threat of diseases mounting, a vaccination programme has been launched focused on preventing the spread of tetanus and hepatitis.