The Police Department fired five more officers who were missing when Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans, bringing to 56 the number of employees who have lost their jobs for being absent without leave.

Four other officers were suspended, police spokesman Marlon Defillo said on Thursday. He did not say how long the suspensions will last.

Defillo initially said seven more officers had been fired and two officers suspended but later corrected the figures.

The action came as hearings continued for officers who were unaccounted for during the Aug. 29 storm. The hearings, which began Tuesday, will run for four to six months, acting superintendent Warren Riley said.

Police were unable to account for 240 officers on the 1,450-member force following Katrina, but not all are believed to have deserted. Some were stranded by high water, and others couldn't make contact because of disabled communication systems.

Last month 45 officers and six civilian employees were fired for being AWOL.