France searches for French trapped by Katrina

6th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Sept 6 (AFP) - French authorities are still trying to locate 30 to 40 French citizens thought to have been in the New Orleans region when Hurricane Katrina struck last week, France's consul general told AFP.

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Sept 6 (AFP) - French authorities are still trying to locate 30 to 40 French citizens thought to have been in the New Orleans region when Hurricane Katrina struck last week, France's consul general told AFP.

"I would say, at a glance, we still haven't heard from 30 or 40 people," Pierre Lebovics said by telephone from Baton Rouge, Louisiana's administrative capital, after three nationals were located by a French team on Monday.

"We've been able to gather new information on two people. We know from good sources that they are safe," said Lebovics, who left News Orleans on evacuation orders a day before Katrina struck.

"We have also found another Frenchman, a pianist staying at his employer's home in the French Quarter," Lebovics said, referring to the old, picturesque neighborhood of New Orleans that was largely spared from the devastating floods that followed Katrina.

Lebovics said the three French citizens would be evacuated from the city on Tuesday.

"We tried to locate a (further) person, but the roads to his home were impassable," the consul added.

"It's a long and difficult job, but necessary and rewarding," he said.

The French search team, including specialists sent by the French foreign ministry, is based in Lafayette, some 200km (125 miles) west of New Orleans, where the French consulate has also been set up provisionally.

The team will continue its search for the missing French on Tuesday, and will also "look at the state of the consular offices" in a downtown New Orleans building, near the Superdome.

Asked how long it would take to locate the missing, Lebovics answered it was impossible to say because they would have to visit every address where French people were known to live.

On Monday, the French foreign ministry announced it had located 25 French citizens in the hurricane affected area of the southern United States, which comprises Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The ministry said it had no knowledge of any French storm victims.

Besides the team in New Orleans, the French consulate has also dispatched another group to Mississippi to "help search, locate and help not only French citizens, but any European it is requested," a French official said.

Meanwhile, a French plane with nearly 13 tons of humanitarian aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina left the southern city of Toulouse Tuesday en route for Mobile, Alabama, the foreign ministry said.

The aircraft was to stop off in Britain to pick up food supplies before continuing its journey.

Two military planes based in the French Caribbean island of Martinique were also due to fly in tents and food rations to Little Rock, Arkansas, the defense ministry said.

The aid is part of a massive US and international effort after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and large parts of the Gulf Coast.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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