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Recovery Teams Finding Fewer Bodies Than Expected in New Orleans

Recovery teams conducting house-to-house searches in New Orleans say they are finding fewer corpses than originally expected, raising hope that the actual death toll from Hurricane Katrina may not be as catastrophic as feared.

Officials Saturday say the official death toll of 300 in the three states hit by the hurricane is expected to rise, but doubt it will reach the widely reported speculation of 10,000 deaths in New Orleans alone.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that all areas of the largely-submerged city will be pumped dry by the middle of October, significantly less time than previously estimated.

City authorities continue trying to persuade those not involved in the recovery effort to evacuate, warning that the flood waters are contaminated with sewage, gasoline, oil and other toxic substances.

In Houston, officials say hundreds of children are still looking for their parents. Many got separated during the chaotic mass evacuation in the days after Katrina struck.

Hundreds of thousands of New Orleans evacuees are now being housed in shelters across the country.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.