Hurricane Gustav to lash US on Sep 1

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New Orleans, Sep 1: Killer Hurricane Gustav plowed toward the US Gulf coast, as nearly two million residents fled to safety and officials shut down the area's vital oil production facilities.

The outer edge of the storm, which left scores dead across the Caribbean over the past few days, was due to hit the US Gulf coast within hours, prompting Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to issue an 11th hour appeal to remaining residents to take advantage of a last chance to escape its fury. "If you're hearing this, seeing this, if you've not evacuated, please do so. There's still a few hours left," Jindal told a press conference on Sunday, Aug 31 in the state capital of Baton Rouge.

"This is a serious storm. If it veers slightly to the east, we could have massive tidal surge and flooding issues," the governor said.

"I'd encourage everybody hearing and seeing this, if you're in coastal Louisiana, please do evacuate," he said.

Gustav also wrought havoc with the US political calendar , forcing US President Bush to cancel plans to appear at the Republican National Convention in St Paul, Minnesota. The US leader said on Sunday, Aug 31 that he would instead travel to Texas to monitor the storm.

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