US President George W. Bush will visit the hurricane-devastated areas in the US Gulf Coast region on Friday, the White House announced Thursday.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the presidential tour includes helicopter surveys of hardest-hit areasand ground inspections of other locations.
He also said Bush has asked two former presidents, Bill Clinton and George W.H. Bush to lead a fund-raising campaign to help hurricane victims.
Earlier in the morning, Bush urged a crackdown on lootings and other crimes that are spreading quickly in hurricane-devastated areas.
During a live interview with US TV network ABC, Bush said there will be "zero tolerance" of such activities, be it looting, gasoline price gouging, taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud.
Meanwhile, he said he "fully understood" the frustrations of people who need food, water and shelter and are desperate for the government's massive relief effort to kick into high gear.
"I understand the anxiety of people on the ground... But I want people to know there's a lot of help coming," Bush was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
He brushed off criticism that he did not return to the White House from his month-long vacation at his Texas ranch on Tuesday, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
"I hope people don't play politics during this period of time," Bush said.
During his flight back to the White House Wednesday, the president surveyed the hurricane-ravaged areas aboard Air Force One, Xinhua reports.
Upon returning, he met top government officials to coordinate relief efforts and made remarks in the Rose Garden.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building