City survives close call with Hurricane Gustav but scale of damage still being checked

Levees in New Orleans appeared to be holding against floodwaters as Hurricane Gustav spared the city the worst of its force.

Gustav, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, is moving inland from the US Gulf coast after narrowly missing the evacuated city.

But the New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, urged the 2 million people who had fled the area to keep their distance for another day while officials checked the scale of the damage.

A mass evacuation was instigated after fears that a sea surge of up to 4.2m would overcome the city defences.

Waves had caused some flooding as the edge of the storm hit the city, but pumps were said to be controlling the water levels and federal officials said they were “confident” about the resilience of the levees.

But news has come that another category-one storm - Hurricane Hanna - has developed near the Bahamas. Storm Ike, now between the Caribbean and Africa, could also become a hurricane within two days, according to experts.