Officials Say Thousands Dead
Louisiana (CNN) -- No one has been able to count the dead from Hurricane Katrina's Gulf Coast rampage, but Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt told CNN on Sunday it is "evident it's in the thousands."I hadn't realized they got 80% of the people out during the mandatory evacuation. I had thought it was far less. Still, 100,000 people were not evacuated before the storm hit. The numbers are surreal.
Leavitt was the first federal official to give an estimate.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin predicted Sunday that there would be that many deaths in his city alone.
"Thousands. If you do the math, there's 500,000 people in the city," the clearly weary mayor said. "We probably evacuated 80 percent" during the mandatory evacuation last Sunday.
"We probably moved about 50,000 people out as it relates to -- 50,000 to 60,000 -- these shelters of last resort. So you probably have another 50,000 to 60,000 out there. You do the math, man. What do you think? Five percent is unreasonable (as a death toll)? Ten percent? Twenty percent? It's going to be a big number."
A senior military commander on duty in New Orleans was no more optimistic.
"Maybe 3,000, maybe 5,000. God, we hope it's no more than 10,000," he told CNN.