Mayor's Comments on Death Toll, Continued
The mayor said Wednesday that Hurricane Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans.
"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
The frightening prediction came as Army engineers struggled to plug New Orleans' breached levees with giant sandbags and concrete barriers, while authorities drew up plans to move some 25,000 storm refugees out of the city to Houston in a huge bus convoy and all but abandon flooded-out New Orleans.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the situation was desperate and there was no choice but to clear out.
"The logistical problems are impossible and we have to evacuate people in shelters," the governor said. "It's becoming untenable. There's no power. It's getting more difficult to get food and water supplies in, just basic essentials."
The Pentagon, meanwhile, began mounting one of the largest search-and-rescue operations in U.S. history, sending four Navy ships to the Gulf Coast with drinking water and other emergency supplies, along with the hospital ship USNS Comfort, search helicopters and elite SEAL water-rescue teams. American Red Cross workers from across the country converged on the devastated region in the agency's biggest-ever relief operation.