Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 23 News List

Superdome in New Orleans may have to be demolished

AFP , BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA

New Orleans's Superdome, the site of murder, rape and suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, may have to be demolished, but it is too early to decide its fate, its operator said on Wednesday.

The building was severely damaged when the storm hit on Aug. 29, while its occupation by up to 25,000 refugees further gutted the building that once hosted a papal visit and was the site of the 1988 Republican Party nomination of former US president George Bush, leaving it awash in sewage and trash.

Damage assessment teams cannot even begin to ascertain the extent of the devastation until the toxic layer of filth and debris left by refugees has been cleared out, said Doug Thornton of SMG, the company that operates the 30-year-old Superdome for the state of Louisiana.

The storm and the flood of survivors who crowded into the building have taken a dreadful toll that could prompt state authorities to raze the Superdome, Thornton said.

The wind got under dampers on the giant dome's roof, peeling off its rubber coating and steel lining "like an onion" when the storm struck, packing winds that probably exceeded 256km per hour around the stadium, he said.

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