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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Lost children database goes live
Image of a child
An unknown number of people have been separated from families
Children separated from families after the deadly Hurricane Katrina are being helped by the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

It helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation and usually runs a CyberTipline to report net abuse.

It has now set up a Katrina Missing Persons Hotline and its website is also serving as an online album of children who are trying to find their families.

Rescue teams are still hunting for survivors in New Orleans.

There are thought to be several thousand still in the city, but they have been urged to leave while the massive clean-up operation starts.

Special request

The US Department of Justice asked the NCMEC to set up a coordinated missing persons process to find and reunite those caught up in Hurricane Katrina across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Photos, names, and descriptions of missing adults, children, as well as relocated children, are being posted to the website.

Image of a helicopter in New Orleans
The rescue and clear-up effort is underway in New Orleans
The NCMEC has also sent out its network of volunteers armed with mobile phones - many of whom are retired police - to affected states to help families with the technicalities of filing their missing persons alerts.

They are also helping them find and post images to the website.

Digital cameras and scanners have also been donated to help with the organisation's efforts, and a national school photographic studio has offered to release school photos of missing children, at a guardian/relative's request, where no image is available.

Many of the children who have been found alone are too young or scared to give full information to the authorities, so some descriptions are brief.

Many are marked as "missing", but there are some success stories such as "Gabby", a two-year-old girl.

The picture shows the child but has a red "Resolved" emblazoned across it. She had been found on the Causeway at I-10.

Websites, such as Craigslist, have already been proving popular as places for worried relatives to turn to.


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