NEW ORLEANS, Sept 3: President George Bush ordered thousands of more troops to New Orleans on Saturday to help pull desperate refugees out of the hurricane-ravaged city, force looting gangs off the streets and find the dead.

The Pentagon said it would send an additional 10,000 National Guard troops to Louisiana and Mississippi to assist in hurricane relief efforts in the coming days, bringing to 40,000 the number of such troops there.

The US military has also decided to bring home from Iraq and Afghanistan 300 air force personnel whose home base area in Mississippi was hit by Katrina.

Under fire for his government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, which wrecked one of the world’s most famous cities and may have killed thousands of people, the US president said he would send in 7,000 additional active duty troops in the next three days.

“Many of our citizens are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans, and that is unacceptable,” said Mr Bush, who planned to return to the stricken region on Monday, a week after Katrina hit it.

After days of broken promises, US troops have finally started moving emergency relief supplies into New Orleans and are now trying to halt widespread looting and horrific violence even as they feed evacuees and move them to shelters in Texas.

Survivors were still trying to leave the city on Saturday.

Corpses lay in the streets, including a woman’s bloated body lying face down in shallow floodwaters at the Superdome, a stadium where thousands endured brutal conditions after taking shelter there.

Thousands of people were told overnight to get out of the city convention centre, where 22 bodies were stored inside a makeshift morgue. There was still no medical care for evacuees, who desperately waited for a bus ride out of the city.

“There are rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats,” said 32-year-old Africa Brumfield. —Reuters

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