YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Most of Louisiana's Identified Storm Victims Over 60

State officials raise the death toll to 1,070, with 539 named. Residents continue to find bodies.

November 05, 2005|Nicholas Riccardi | Times Staff Writer

Among Louisiana victims of Hurricane Katrina whose bodies have been identified so far by the state, nearly two-thirds were older than 60, officials said Friday as they released the latest accounting of the storm's toll.

As Louisiana updated its death toll to 1,070, officials also provided more details on the 539 corpses, mostly those of residents of New Orleans and neighboring St. Bernard Parish, that it had slowly processed through its morgue and identified.

Twenty-five percent of the identified dead were 61 to 75 years old. And 39% were older than 75.

The data confirmed what many believe: that Katrina killed the weakest residents of the Crescent City.

"They were the poorer and older people who could not get out from the storm," New Orleans Coroner Frank Minyard said. "A large percentage will be poorer black people."

Seventy-five bodies were recovered from nursing homes, and a yet undisclosed number from hospitals.

The state attorney general is investigating whether medical facilities were criminally negligent in their care of the sick during the hurricane.

Much is still unknown about the storm's toll. The state is continuing to add to its death toll as people returning to their homes find corpses that were buried under muck and debris and missed in the first round of searches. And 338 of the bodies at the main morgue in the town of St. Gabriel have not been identified -- more than one-third of the dead housed there.

The remaining number of Louisiana's storm dead were processed by coroners in other parishes, and the state lacks data on those corpses.

The continuing trickle of new deaths and the number of unidentified bodies leave an incomplete portrait of the storm's dead. Of those bodies identified, 40% are black and 34% white; 25% are listed as "unknown."

Families have complained about the slow process of identifying and releasing bodies at the main morgue. The state said that as of Friday, 238 had been released to their families. Officials said that 243 more were ready for release, but that officials had not found next of kin.

Earlier this week, officials sent out a plea for people whose relatives were missing to bring dental records or photographs that might show their loved ones' teeth. The damage to bodies from the storm has deprived medical examiners of many traditional ways of identifying corpses, such as taking fingerprints.

Los Angeles Times Articles