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UN Places Worldwide Disaster Teams on Hurricane Alert

The United Nations says it has placed U.N. disaster teams around the world on alert and told them they are ready to be deployed to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A U.N. spokesman in Geneva Friday said members of its U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination Center specializing in natural disasters are ready to help the United States deal with the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, if requested by Washington.

He said the world body's various agencies - including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Food Program and the U.N. refugee agency - are meeting Friday in New York to put together an offer of logistical support.

The U.N. announcement comes several hours after Secretary-General Kofi Annan said America has always been generous in responding to disasters around the globe, and urged the international community to offer assistance to the devastated communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.