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Rape And Murder Inside Dome Of Despair
IT is a nightmare landscape of roaming gangs and random rapes. Desperate,
hungry refugees are forced to huddle in hiding from armed thugs who have
killed for what little food can be scavenged.
This is how the richest nation on earth reacts to a disaster.
More than 30,000 National Guards were sent in to New Orleans last night
with orders to shoot to kill.
Those who survived Hurricane Katrina inside the city's Superdome emerged
yesterday from a second hell.
"They're raping babies in there," sobbed a haunted escapee to a television
camera as she begged President George W. Bush to send help.
"They are raping women. They are stabbing. There were riots."
New Orleans has descended from tourist icon to something terrifying. A week
after the first storm warnings and there are few signs of the sad order that
was established after the South-East Asian tsunami.
There is only one small field hospital, a handle of water trucks and no central
co-ordination of the evacuation.
And while Mr Bush has ordered a $10 billion rescue package, no level of government
has been able to explain how the world's only superpower could have left a major
city without a workable disaster plan.
Even the Red Cross has been unable to get in and get organised as they wait for
Survivors have turned on each other. The tales from inside the Superdome verge on
Inside was a mass of stinking, hungry, frightened humanity without water, sewerage,
food or air. Strangers were crammed against others who robbed them, beat them and
raped them while armed guards stood oblivious.
"The stench was unbearable. We were treated like animals," Baron Duncan said.
"There was shooting," she said. "Our lives were in danger. A seven-year-old girl
and an eight-year-old boy got raped."
"One man couldn't take it. He jumped over the railing and died," claimed Audrey
Keshia Gray, a 28-year-old resident said "people were dying off".
"There were people shooting, fights broke out, the bathrooms were all clogged up
and there was no water. Then the police started shooting. I couldn't stay in there."
Thousands were still waiting outside the Superdome amid at least seven dead bodies
last night to be loaded on to buses to be taken to other cities.
Authorities in Houston, Texas, announced that city's Astrodome was already
full – it is now home to 11,000.
New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin issued a "desperate SOS" for help as Mr Bush
sent in more troops and the massive aircraft carrier Harry S Truman to serve
as a command centre.
No one denies armed gangs have all but gained control of the city. On the
outskirts, white residents sit with rifles near the broken wood and shattered
bricks that mark the sites of their homes.
But it is the disabled, the poor who cannot afford cars, the sick and the
elderly who have been left behind in the inner city. And most of those left
behind are black.
Some white survivors have claimed their race makes them particularly
vulnerable – the authorities say everyone is in danger.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was blunt when she spelt out what the
National Guard had to do.
"These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well-trained, experienced,
battle-tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets," she warned.
"They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.
"These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than
willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will."
Police Chief Eddie Compass said he had sent in 88 officers to calm
crowds waiting for evacuation at the city's convention centre but
they were driven back by an angry mob.
"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals wo
are getting beaten," he said.
The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical
care, and with no sign of law enforcement.
An old man lay dead on a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around
him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair,
covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.
"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as
he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.
More pictures of Hurricane Katrina's destruction
The Courier Mail (3-9-2005)
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Rapes, Gunfire In New Orleans
REPORTS are emerging of rapes, street fighting
and dead bodies lying out in the open in New Orleans
as the devastated city slips into anarchy in the wake
of Hurricane Katrina.
Horrific reports have emerged of conditions at the Louisiana
Superdome, which was used as a refuge for the city's poor and
homeless. Witnesses claimed two children were raped and refugees
had been terrorised by rioters.
There are mounting reports of dead bodies floating in the
floodwaters. The Louisiana Governor said today she and her
officials believed "thousands" would be found dead when the floods eventually receded.
More than 4000 troops have been called in to deal with the
spiralling lawlessness on the streets after reports that armed
gangs were on looting sprees in the city.
The New Orleans mayor issued a "desperate SOS" as city
residents grew increasingly angry at the lack of food and
evacuation transport. The historic city, which claims to
be the birthplace of jazz music, is now being abandoned.
Overnight, a rescue helicopter was fired upon by a gunman
on the ground as military personnel tried to collect refugees for evacuation.
Hundreds of stranded people could be seen waving flags on
rooftops in a desperate bid to attract the attention of rescuers,
while thousands remained trapped in the city's Superdome stadium,
engulfed by water.
US President George W. Bush has sought the counsel of two former
presidents - his father, George Bush Snr, and Bill Clinton - as he
prepared to make a trip to the disaster area to see the damage.
He also urged Americans to avoid buying petrol because of
"We all know this is an agonizing time for the people of the
Gulf Coast," Mr Bush said. "I ask their continued patience as
recovery operations unfold."
But Thomas Jessie, a 31-year-old roofer, vented his fear and
anger after spending a night in the squalor of the convention
center with no National Guard or Red Cross workers in sight.
"We got dead bodies sitting next to us for days. I feel like I
am going to die. People are going to kill you for water," Jessie told AFP.
"This is America, I don't understand the lack of communications
between the authorities and the people," he said. "It is disgusting,
we feel we have been forgotten."
Keshia Gray, 28, said the scene in the convention center turned more
horrific by the hour.
"As the night went on, people were dying off. There were people
shooting, fights broke out, the bathrooms were all clogged up and
there was no water," she said. "Then the police started shooting.
I couldn't stay in there."
Officials moved to stave off mounting criticism of the response to
what officials have called one of the worst natural disasters in
US history, saying the flood waters were to blame for the slow progress.
"Let me emphasize, from the very beginning, and as we speak, rescue
operations have continued and are continuing in full force," said
Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff.
Officials said more than two million customers in five states
stretching from Louisiana to Florida were still without electric power.
The Herald Sun (2-9-2005)
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