NEW ORLEANS – More than 3,200 people are officially still unaccounted for nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the state medical examiner wants the search to resume for those missing from the most devastated neighborhoods.
A total of nearly 11,500 people were reported missing to the Find Family National Call Center, a center run by federal and state workers. The reports included people from throughout the Gulf Coast area, but most were from Louisiana.
As of Wednesday, all but about 3,200 had been located, the agency said.
Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical examiner, said he planned to ask state and parish officials to recheck about 400 addresses where authorities have consistent information about people missing from badly flooded neighborhoods. Most are in east New Orleans; about 50 are from St. Bernard Parish.
It's possible some of those missing were washed into Lake Pontchartrain, or their bodies remain in the rubble that still blankets much of the city. Over the last several weeks, at least one family returning to a wrecked home has found the remains of a relative inside.
Some of those still listed as missing likely have been found already by relatives but the center hasn't been notified of their status, the call center said. Others may not want to be found because of criminal or legal problems.
More than 1,300 Katrina-related deaths have been reported across five states, with 1,078 of those from Louisiana.