05 September 2005

Katrina's death toll climbs.

Time is running out for thousands of people awaiting rescue seven 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.

"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.


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