The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is down to a three- to four-week supply of canned tuna fish and rice, and is running low on generator fuel to power its only satellite telephone link with Washington, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The prospect that U.S. Ambassador W. Nathaniel Howell III, his deputy, Barbara K. Bodine, and 25 others might have to lower the American flag in Kuwait by Thanksgiving led the Bush administration to push for a U.N. Security Council resolution, approved on Monday, demanding the humanitarian resupply of foreign embassies.

A White House official said that President Bush, who charged yesterday that Iraq was "starving" the embassy personnel in Kuwait, did not mean that the 27 people in the embassy were in imminent danger of starvation. Bush was referring only to their "dwindling food supplies," the official said.

A State Department official said that there were "no serious health problems" among the embassy holdouts and that they have adequate supplies of water for drinking and bathing. The bathing water, which was scarce in the first two months, is now available from a shallow well the group dug behind the ambassador's residence, one of a number of buildings inside the walled seaside compound.

"They're very elated about their new well," said Margie Howell, the ambassador's wife, in an interview in Washington Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "They have an ample supply of water now. They're washing cars, having showers, and able to water their new garden."

Mrs. Howell, who returned to this country as her husband was preparing to end his three-year tour in Kuwait just before the Iraqi invasion Aug. 2, said she was able to go to the State Department "to use their special phone and talk to {Ambassador Howell} each morning."

The embassy also has maintained local telephone contact, "for short conversations, since the lines are tapped," with other Americans outside the compound who are still in hiding from Iraqi forces in Kuwait, Mrs. Howell said.

Overall, she painted a fairly upbeat portrait of life inside the embassy, in contrast to Bush's comments yesterday. Those inside the embassy compound, she said, "have ample supply of stored water and canned food."

The State Department official offered a similar assessment. "They are in good spirits," he said, adding that they had just completed a tennis tournament in which Howell was defeated by one of his staff. The diplomats continue their vegetable gardening to supplement their diet, which has consisted recently of tuna fish as the main staple of virtually every meal, with small amounts of noodles, rice and tomato sauce.

The embassy's food supply, which was relatively meager when the invasion struck, was restocked during the weeks of chaos before Iraq targeted foreign embassies for closure and blocked the exit from the compound.

The 27 people inside the embassy include eight U.S. diplomats -- four men and four women -- and 19 others whose identities and nationalities have not been specified by U.S. officials. This group also is divided about equally between men and women, officials said.

The current number is significantly less than the total gathered inside the embassy during the early days of the crisis. Marine guards were sent out of Kuwait to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad soon after the Iraqi invasion to avoid the possibility of a clash with Iraqi troops. Much of the diplomatic staff was also sent to Baghdad, and Iraq allowed embassy dependents to be evacuated back to the United States, via Baghdad and Jordan.

A number of other civilians who had sought sanctuary in the embassy after the invasion have left on various evacation flights over the past two months.

Administration officials refused to comment on when they estimate food supplies will run out at the embassy because such information would be of value to the Iraqi regime.

"Let me put it this way," said one U.S. official, "Thanksgiving is going to be extremely unpleasant there." Added another official, "We're talking weeks, not months."