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New Orleans faces public health collapse

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NEW ORLEANS, Aug 31, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The public healthcare system along the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast faced collapse as hospitals began closing amid worsening conditions, a report said.

It could be weeks before electricity and running water are restored to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and flooding after the collapse of two levees protecting a city that is 6 feet below sea level.

The failure of backup generators prompted at least three New Orleans hospitals to close amid fresh deaths and injuries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Charity Hospital and Baptist Hospital may never reopen because of damage, the newspaper said. Tulane University Medical Center transferred remaining patients saying its emergency generator was under water.

Thousands of patients were being moved to hospitals outside New Orleans.

The hurricane also knocked out the main 50-inch pipeline supplying water to the city. Officials worried the storm's aftermath could lead to outbreaks of disease and encounters with deadly snakes and other wildlife.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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