Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GET US OUT; 'Get Every Bus in the US and Get the F*** to New Orleans' KATRINA DISASTER MAYOR'S PLEA AS COUPLE TRAPPED WITH THOUSANDS OF EVACUEES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GET US OUT; 'Get Every Bus in the US and Get the F*** to New Orleans' KATRINA DISASTER MAYOR'S PLEA AS COUPLE TRAPPED WITH THOUSANDS OF EVACUEES

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT MENDICK;VALENTINE LOW

We fear we're going to die says hurricane Briton trapped with fiancee A YOUNG Briton trapped with his fiancee in the New Orleans Superdome today pleaded: "Get us out of here."

In a dramatic phone call, Mark Graydon spoke of their fears for their lives after four days in the makeshift refugee camp, now under the control of violent gangs. Thirty Britons are believed to be inside the stadium.

Mr Graydon, 26 - who proposed to his American girlfriend Gretchen Heiserman amid the chaos and anarchy in the Superdome - said they were being subjected to constant abuse and intimidation. Miss Heiserman has been threatened with rape.

In a bid to restore order, US troops armed with assault rifles were today under orders to shoot to kill looters.

Up to 100 people have died in a single district of New Orleans from dehydration and exhaustion because looters prevented rescue teams from reaching them. Corpses rot in the street.

Today there was growing anger at the lack of a successful relief operation.

As law and order continued to deteriorate, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at President Bush.

"I need reinforcements, I need troops, I need 500 buses," he told local radio station WWL. "This is a national disaster - get every bus in the country and get the f*** to New Orleans."

Residents' fears were heightened when an explosion before dawn at a chemical plant on the riverfront lit the sky with red and orange flames.

Mr Graydon's plea for help came in a call to his father John on a borrowed US military phone. They had tried to get out of the Superdome, home to up to 30,000 refugees, on one of the coaches heading for Houston, Texas - 350 miles away - but were manhandled out of the way.

"He told me he was very concerned about his life and his girlfriend's," said John Graydon, 56, from Stanford-le-Hope, in Essex: "He said, 'Dad, you have to get us out of here.' "That is the first time he has said that. He has been pretty brave until now. He is desperate. They are being seriously intimidated. There are 30 Britons in there and they are in dreadful danger.

"They are being abused and threatened. His girlfriend has been threatened with rape."

Mr Graydon, who protested at the failure of the authorities to get the Britons out, added: "He and Gretchen are surrounded by bullies, the local mafia - huge, threatening men who seem to have taken over the running of the place.

"The unsavoury characters that have surrounded them have been making derogatory remarks towards Gretchen. There are rumours a couple of women were raped and he is scared for Gretchen. It's like a scene from Mad Max in there.

One man was beaten up brutally. There are also reports of bodies inside.

"People are dying because of the lack of water, intense heat and the lack of aid. …

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