Worst Natural Disaster in United States' History; Scores Killed by Hurricane Katrina

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Byline: BY VICTORIA WARD

AN URGENT appeal for financial aid was made last night as the United States began to come to terms with the true extent of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.

In what could prove to be the worst natural disaster ever to hit the US, an estimated 80 people have been killed. It is feared that number will rise.

Hundreds of thousands of people across Louisiana and Mississippi have been made homeless as distressing images of the storm-hit area are beamed around the world.

Several observers have said the area looks like a "war zone".

Described as a "truly catastrophic event", the storm turned much of the Gulf coast into a refuge camp, having ripped up homes and turned streets to rivers awash with debris.

Martial law was declared in New Orleans where bodies were seen floating in the water and looting was rife. Some 80% of the city was submerged. Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has assessed the devastation, said the flood damage was the worst he had ever seen.

He said that the organisation was preparing to house "at least tens of thousands of victims for literally months on end".

President George Bush cut short his summer holiday to return to Washington to monitor recovery efforts.

Hundreds of people were stranded on rooftops, desperately screaming for help.

Many smashed their way out using axes and others simply did not make it, with several reports of bodies seen floating in the water. …