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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Storm Water For Sale

The chance to make a quick buck from Hurricane Katrina has not escaped some, with items on eBay including a "rain-soaked newspaper" delivered on the day the storm hit the American south, jars of rainwater and a message in a bottle that supposedly led to the rescue of several families.

Among other items on sale on eBay yesterday was a scribbling that a Texan "artist" claims he drew after waking from a dream 10 days before the storm, which uncannily resembles satellite pictures of Katrina. One man, claiming to be a survivor of the catastrophe, is offering the rights to his story, starting at $12,500 (£6,800).

Various T-shirts, bumper stickers and badges are on offer, either proclaiming "I survived Hurricane Katrina" or making jokes. One reads "I went to New Orleans and all I looted was this lousy T-shirt". Another says "Disaster Relief: Get Rid of Bush".
The appearance of items on eBay aimed at ghoulish souvenir hunters has become common after disasters. Soon after the September 11 attacks, pieces of the World Trade Centre were being offered for sale. People also attempted to sell debris from the space shuttle Columbia.

The message in a bottle allegedly read "Help ... Help ... Mother-2 Children no water ... no food" and then gave an address. The seller claims to have been given the item at a reunion centre in Dallas.

A spokesman for eBay said it judged items on a case by case basis. "We have clearly defined policies on what is not allowed," he said. He would not discuss the Katrina items, but said in the case of 9/11, a newspaper from September 12 would be allowed, but pieces of debris would not.


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