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Foreign nationals may be amongst Katrina Victims

Other Nations Search for Citizens Who May Be Katrina Victims

Unknown number caught in storm-ravaged region, State Department Says

Washington – At least 17 foreign missions have come to the U.S. State Department expressing concern about their citizens who might be affected by Hurricane Katrina, which ranks among the worst natural disasters to ever befall the United States.

"We would like to advise concerned family members of foreign nationals residing or traveling in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to try [first] to reach their family members by phone, e-mail or other available means,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in an August 31 statement.

"If they cannot reach family members directly, we recommend they contact their embassy in Washington, D.C., for assistance," he added. "Reports from the region indicate that some phone lines are working but experiencing heavy call volume, so family members should be encouraged to keep trying."

The State Department is unable to estimate how many foreign nationals might have been in the storm zone, which primarily encompassed coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross have Web sites that offer information about conditions in the region, McCormack said.

Authorities are estimating that it could take months to restore New Orleans to some state of habitability. Floodwaters will be drained, but will leave behind a toxic brew of contaminants and filth. After that, power must be restored, debris removed, and water and sewer services flushed and restored.

The U.S. government has launched one of the largest domestic response mobilizations in U.S. history in the wake of massive destruction, death and homelessness caused by Hurricane Katrina.

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