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 » Rebuilding  |  Landmarks  | Storm & Flood  |  Special report

Time running out for survivors

Rescuers: Not enough resources to save all in New Orleans

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New Orleans (Louisiana)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Time is running out for thousands of people awaiting rescue six days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, rescuers say.

Officials say they do not have the manpower, the resources or enough time to save everyone.

"My guys are coming back and telling me, 'Sir, I went into a house, and there are three elderly people in their beds, and they're gasping, and they're dying,' " Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said.

"And we got calls today, 'We need you ... to go to a place in St. Bernard Parish. It's a hospice, ... and there are 10 dead and there are 10 dying.' But those people were probably alive yesterday or the day before."

Though pilots, rescue crew members and maintenance workers are red-eyed and exhausted, they're refusing to rest, CNN's Karl Penhaul reported.

For every person plucked from the flood, there are hundreds still waiting, rescuers say. (Watch a report on rescue efforts -- 3:10)

"There's simply not enough resources," Jones said.

"It's an awful feeling to know you've not got everybody in time," rescue swimmer Chris Monville said. "You're trying to get everybody out. But in these temperatures the weak and the sick expire first, and it tears at your heart."

Monville said he has rescued 126 people in a single day.

As of Sunday morning, the Coast Guard reported it rescued more than 17,000 people via helicopter, boat, cutter and ferry -- almost twice the number of lives it has saved in the past 50 years.

The Coast Guard is asking anyone trapped in their homes or in buildings in New Orleans "to hang brightly colored or white sheets, towels or anything else" to help rescuers locate them.

More than 1,300 Coast Guard personnel are involved in the effort around New Orleans, and more are on the way, it said. Meanwhile, Army helicopters dropped boxes of food and water to survivors waiting for rescue.

The Coast Guard says it has delivered thousands of bottles of water to victims in the New Orleans area, is monitoring hundreds of pollution cases, and coordinating the salvage of more than 100 vessels.

Missions are being staged from Belle Chasse, Bucktown and the New Orleans Sains Training Facility, and from five cutters along the Mississippi River.

Tracking down missing

The Coast Guard and the American Red Cross are enabling people to post on the Internet information about loved ones missing or stranded because of Hurricane Katrina.

The Coast Guard is accepting requests on its Web page: http://homeport.uscg.mil

The Family Links Registry of the Red Cross can be accessed at on the Web at www.familylinks.icrc.org/katrina. The Red Cross also has established a hotline, 1-877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317), that can be used to search or add information to the registry.

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