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1,056 Bodies Recovered in Louisiana

October 23, 2005|David Zucchino

Authorities in Louisiana said this weekend that they had recovered 1,056 bodies of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Of those, 158 had been released to families, they said.

State and federal officials at a temporary morgue in St. Gabriel, La., south of Baton Rouge, said the identification and release of bodies had been delayed by the advanced decomposition of many corpses; lack of dental and medical records; staff and equipment shortages; and the scattering of next-of-kin across the country.

A total of 863 bodies have been examined at the morgue, with 705 still awaiting positive identification by teams of forensic specialists and coroners.

Approximately 200 bodies were delivered directly to parish coroners.

Of those storm victims whose remains have been returned to relatives, two-thirds were recovered in hard-hit Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city of New Orleans.

Eleven percent were recovered in St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, where flooding was extensive.

Nine percent were recovered in Jefferson Parish, south and west of New Orleans, where only about 15% of the parish was flooded.

Half of those victims are white, 44% African American and 3% Hispanic. Race could not be determined for 3% of those victims, officials reported.

Because most of the victims identified and released so far were recovered from hospitals or nursing homes, the vast majority were elderly.

Officials said that eight victims included on previous lists had been removed because further investigation determined that their deaths were not storm-related.

-- David Zucchino

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