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Thu, Sep 01, 2005

Shots Fired At Military Helo In New Orleans

Evacuation Of Superdome Suspended

Efforts to evacuated thousands of people from the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans were quickly suspended Thursday morning, after someone near the building fired shots at a military helicopter.

Some 25,000 people -- many of them sick or injured -- was halted before dawn when the shots rang out, reportedly at a National Guard CH-47 Chinook. No one in the aircraft was injured, but the pilot refused to land in an area where angry refugees had lit fires and were carrying weapons.

Ground evacuations of the able-bodied were suspended as well.

The refugees were being taken to the Houston Astrodome in aircraft and buses. Acadian Ambulance chief Richard Zeuschlag said the gunfire made it plain that the situation was becoming far too dangerous for his unarmed air-ambulance pilots. There was no indication when the evacuation might resume as thousands of National Guard troops poured into the hurricane-ravaged city to restore order.

"We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome," Zeuschlag told the Associated Press. He said the National Guard told him 100 MPs were heading for the Superdome. "That's not enough," Zeuschlag. "We need a thousand."

"The reports that we have heard out there is that there are basically gangs out there with weapons who are shooting at helicopters, who are shooting at people," Gloria Roemer of the Harris County, Texas, Office of Emergency Management told CBS Radio News.

FMI: www.fema.gov

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