Searching For victims As Ike Weakens; Gas Prices Soar

HOUSTON (AP) - Tropical Storm Ike continues to weaken as it heads up through northeastern Texas with top sustained winds near 45 miles-per-hour. Forecasters warn that the system could spawn tornadoes.

The center is expected to move into southwestern Arkansas on Saturday night. The search continues for thousands of people who remained in their homes along the Texas coast overnight. Authorities estimate there were about 140,000 or more who stayed despite warnings they could die.

The storm blew out the windows in skyscrapers in Houston, cut power to millions and swamped thousands of homes along the coast. Yachts were carried up onto roadways, buildings and homes collapsed and cars floated in floodwaters. Ike killed dozens of people in the Caribbean but is blamed in two in the U.S.: one each in Texas and Louisiana. A woman was killed when a tree fell on her house. And a boy fell out of a boat in a Louisiana bayou. Officials expect the death toll will climb.

President Bush has declared a disaster in Texas and ordered immediate federal aid. Bush also says state and federal officials are looking to catch gas oline price-gougers, following a runup blamed on the shutdown of rigs and refineries.

If you suspect gas gouging here in Alabama, the state attorney general's consumer affairs hotline is open ready to help. That number is 1-800-392-5658. Businesses could face a thousand dollar fine per offense if they're caught rigging prices.