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Dozens found dead at New Orleans hospital
Updated: 2005-09-13 08:45

Goodson said patients died while waiting to be evacuated over the four days after the hurricane hit, as temperatures inside the hospital reached 106 degrees. "I would suggest that that had a lot to do with" the deaths, he said of the heat.

Family members and nurses were "literally standing over the patients, fanning them," he said.

Police Chief Eddie Compass declined to answer any questions about the bodies, including whether officers received any calls for help from those inside the hospital after it was evacuated.

People use phones at a mobile phone center to call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Gulfport, Mississippi.
People use phones at a mobile phone center to call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Gulfport, Mississippi.[AFP]
Dr. Jeffrey Kochan, a Philadelphia radiologist volunteering in New Orleans, said members of the team that recovered the bodies from the hospital in the city's Uptown section told him they found 36 corpses floating on the first floor.

"These guys were just venting. They need to talk," he said. "They're seeing things no human being should have to see."

Bush, in his third visit to New Orleans since the storm, made his first foray to the streets Monday and toured the city for 45 minutes aboard the back of a truck, forcing him at times to duck to avoid low-hanging electrical wires and branches.

He disputed suggestions that the government responded sluggishly because the victims were mostly poor and black.

"The storm didn't discriminate and neither will the recovery effort," the president said. "When those Coast Guard choppers, many of whom were first on the scene, were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin."

In New Orleans' central business district — which includes oil and gas companies, hotels, restaurants, banks and brokerages — business owners were issued passes into the city to retrieve vital records or equipment, such as computers.

Among the businessmen allowed back into New Orleans on Monday was Terry Cockerham, owner of Service Glass, which installs windows at businesses downtown. He has been working out of his house because his business was destroyed by looters and flooding.

"This is about the most work I've ever had," he said. "We'll work seven days a week until we get this job finished. I don't want to get rich. I just want to get everything back right."

In the French Quarter, Nick Ditta was at Mango Mango, the bar he manages on Bourbon Street, searching for time cards. "It's a mess man. There is no doubt about it," Ditta said. "But our people are going to get paid. That's all I'm worried about."

New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau president J. Stephen Perry said Katrina cost the city about 100 to 200 major conventions. But he expected the tourism industry to be among the first to bounce back, since the French Quarter and many hotels suffered little damage.

"The really positive thing long-term is, the core of our infrastructure of the $5 billion to $8 billion tourism industry remained intact," Perry said. "As odd as it may sound right now, we are optimistic that this recovery is not only going to happen, its going to happen well and we're going to have a great city going again."

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