New Orleans authorities turned much of its attention to gathering up and counting the dead across a ghastly landscape awash in perhaps thousands of corpses. "It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine," the U.S. homeland security chief warned.
As authorities struggled to keep order Sunday, police shot eight people, killing five or six, after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors traveling across a bridge on their way to make repairs, authorities said.
Air and boat crews searched flooded neighborhoods for survivors, and federal officials urged those still left in New Orleans to leave for their own safety.
To expedite the rescues, the Coast Guard requested through the media that anyone stranded hang out brightly colored or white linens or something else to draw attention. But with the electricity out though much of the city, it was not known if the message was being received.
With large-scale evacuations completed at the Superdome and Convention Center shelters, the death toll was not known. But bodies were everywhere: floating in canals, slumped in wheelchairs, abandoned on highways and medians and hidden in attics, reports the AP.
"I think it's evident it's in the thousands," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Sunday on CNN, echoing predictions by city and state officials last week. The U.S. Public Health Service said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.