A deathly silence has descended on New Orleans. The city has been almost completely evacuated, leaving rescue teams with the grim task of recovering the bodies of those who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
It is now thought the dire predictions of 10,000 dead are wrong and instead the final toll could be in the hundreds. At the latest count, 118 people were killed in Louisiana and 201 in Mississippi. In New Orleans, the house to house searches continue, with the walls of some single-storey homes only now emerging from under the floodwater. An estimated 60 per cent of the city is still waterlogged. In Washington, George W. Bush has signed through an extra 42 billion euros in emergency funding. “Responsibility for caring for hundreds of thousands of citizens who no longer have homes is going to place many demands on our nation,” said the president. “We have many difficult days ahead, especially as we recover those who did not survive the storm.” The US president’s response to the disaster continues to draw criticism. Opposition Democrats are calling for a probe similar to the 9-11 commission. One Louisiana senator described initial federal efforts as “incompetent and insulting”.