New Orleans evacuates ahead of powerful Gustav
Gustav changes US Republican convention
Nearly 2 million people were evacuated from the U.S. Gulf Coast, and most offshore oil platforms and refineries there were shutting down on Sunday due to Hurricane Gustav's approaching landing.
Gustav is set to crash ashore midday Monday with a forecast force of Category 3 whose wind is expected to speed up over 200 km per hour when it hits the Louisiana coast.
It has already killed at least 94 people on its path through Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba, triggering heavy rainfalls and flooding.
In New Orleans, which was badly hit by Hurricane Katrina three years ago, Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the evacuation ahead of the "big, ugly storm."
"I encourage everyone to leave," he said, warning that anyone refuses to leave would face extreme danger.
He also ordered a curfew and warned of harsh punishment on those who dare to loot amid the evacuation.
Most local residents, with a miserable memory of Katrina, jammed evacuation routes, while the government has provided trains and buses to facilitate the evacuation.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said about 1.9 million people had fled the coastal areas and only 10,000 were estimated to have stayed in New Orleans.
"It is not too late to evacuate, (and) I strongly encourage you to do so," he made the appeal at a press conference.
Thousands more had left Mississippi, Alabama and southeast Texas, according to local media.