Hurricane's Herified Death Toll Falls to 1,053

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The number of verified storm-related deaths in Louisiana inched downward today as examiners identified more people killed by bullets or other occurrences that had nothing to do with the storm.

The Department of Health and Hospitals says the total number of bodies at the Saint Gabriel morgue and in parish coroners' offices since Hurricane Katrina rose to 1,079, but 26 of those deaths are not related to the storm. That put the storm death total at 1,053, three below the total released Monday, when 20 deaths out of 1,076 were listed as unrelated to the hurricane.

The agency say 416 of the 886 bodies examined at the morgue had been released to families, and morgue workers are trying to reach the families of another 162. Seven have been identified and are awaiting autopsies, and 301 are listed as unidentified.

DHH says the bodies released to families included all 26 non-storm deaths.