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Hurricane Gustav Lands on US State of Louisiana 2008-09-02 09:06:23  

     WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) --

Hurricane Gustav landed on the U.S. State of Louisiana Monday morning, making its landfall on the southwest of New Orleans city, the National Hurricane Center said.

    The eye of Gustav made the landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, about 10:30 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) as a Category 2, moving about 177 km per hour, the center said.

    At a news briefing in Texas, U.S. President George W. Bush said that the emergency response to Hurricane Gustav was "a lot better" than the reaction to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 people killed and New Orleans devastated.

    "The coordination on this storm is a lot better than during Katrina," Bush said at the state Emergency Operations Center in Austin.

    However, he warned the danger to the Gulf Coast from Gustav was far from over and it remains a "serious event."

    The president canceled his trip to the Republican National Convention in Minnesota starting on Monday and traveled to Austin and San Antonio in Texas instead, about 640 kilometers away from the Gustav-hit area in Louisiana.

    Gustav was downgraded to a Category 2 storm by mid-Monday morning, compared to Katrina, a Category 3 storm.

    CNN TV footage broadcast live from New Orleans showed that strong wind swirled rains and swept the city, leaving floodwater overtopping an industrial canal levee.

    The CNN report said local police had fled the area and warned reporters to withdraw immediately.

    Gustav has killed over 80 persons when it hit the Caribbean region, and was expected to pass through Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi early this week.

    Millions of people in Louisiana have been evacuated as the so-called "the storm of the century" loomed. New Orleans, which is still recovering from the catastrophic hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has been put on full alert.

    David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters earlier on Monday that "unprecedented cooperation" has been ongoing among federal agencies and the private sector.

    He said that local residents were offered with help even before the storm came, which significantly eased evacuations. But for those who still stay in New Orleans, "it was their choice."

    In anticipation of the worst possible scenario brought by the hurricane, energy companies have halted nearly all the oil and gas operation in the Gulf of Mexico.

    As the hurricane has weakened to Category 2, moving at 177 kilometers per hour, energy experts forecast that it is unlikely to cause the same damage as Hurricane Katrina did three years ago.

    However, it was still expected to bring massive economic loss to the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

    Eqecat Inc, a California-based risk modeler, said Monday in a statement that Gustav would result in up to 12 billion U.S. dollars in insured losses, and a long-term 5 percent cut to oil and natural gas production in the region, mostly in Louisiana.

    The loss included wind and water damage to commercial and residential structures, and business operating suspension due to shutdowns and a surge in costs of supplies.

    As Gustav was still howling above the Gulf region, another tropical Storm Hanna became a hurricane with a speed of 120 kilometers per hour in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas on Monday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Editor: Yao

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