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Officials Say Death Toll in New Orleans May Be Lower than Feared

Officials in New Orleans say recovery teams have found far fewer bodies than expected so far, and that the actual death toll may not be as catastrophic as the widely reported speculation of 10,000.

At a news conference with various city agencies Friday, Colonel Terry Ebert, the city's homeland security director, said that in order to protect the dignity of the dead no pictures will be allowed of body recoveries. He said the state of Louisiana will release only death toll figures.

The city's attorney said police, national guard units and the Army's 82nd Airborne Division have fully secured the devastated city, and are conducting day and night reconnaissance to ensure order. She said those not involved with recovery operations are strongly urged to leave the city, but police are not yet forcing evacuations. She stressed, however, that the mayor's mandatory evacuation order remains in force.

Meanwhile, the White House says President Bush will return to the stricken Gulf Coast region Sunday for an overnight visit.