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World Trade Center tenants wait for word

By CNN's Alex Frew McMillan

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Companies around the world scrambled Wednesday to find out what had happened to their employees in New York and Washington, D.C.

Around 425 tenants from 26 countries had offices in the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

Though the collapsed "Twin Towers" - 1 World Trade Center and 2 World Trade Center - were by far the most distinctive buildings, the World Trade Center in fact comprised seven buildings in all.

The Twin Towers collapsed soon after planes crashed into them Tuesday morning. A third building, 7 World Trade Center, also collapsed Tuesday afternoon.

It was across the street from the Twin Towers and was evacuated when it caught fire after the initial attacks.

Morgan Stanley the biggest tenant

The World Trade Center was the symbolic heart of Wall Street, the U.S. financial capital. It housed numerous international and U.S. investment banks, and the brokerages, law firms and service companies that support and surround them.

Morgan Stanley was the biggest tenant, taking up 21 floors of 2 World Trade Center with retail brokerage operations.

In Hong Kong, the company issued a statement that it was "saddened and outraged" by the attack. But it had limited information on the safety of its workers. Its headquarters were not affected, the company said.

"Our immediate focus and concern are for the well-being and safety of Morgan Stanley employees," it stated.

Around 50,000 people worked in the Twin Towers alone. Some 20 Japanese companies had offices there.

Japanese banks wait for word

They included many of Japan's biggest banks, such as the trust operations of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and Chuo Mitsui.

Fuji Bank & Trust operated on four floors in 2 World Trade Center. A spokesman said Wednesday afternoon that 12 out of 125 Japanese expatriate employees were missing. The rest had checked in and are safe.

Around 90 percent of the 500 local U.S. employees had been located, he said. "We hope the rest are OK," he said.

Office workers were seen falling or jumping from the Twin Towers before they collapsed.

Asahi Bank Ltd. had 94 employees in its New York branch on the 60th floor of 1 World Trade Center. All 94 are alive, the company said Wednesday.

A spokesman said he was unsure how the employees got out of the building but they have all been accounted for.

There were also companies based in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China that had offices in the buildings.

For instance, Korean brokerages Hyundai Securities and LG Securities had offices in 1 World Trade Center, on the 84th and 78th floors respectively.

An office of the U.S. subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand, one of Thailand's largest conglomerates, was on the 21st floor of 2 World Trade Center.

Ramifications will be felt for ever

Bank HSBC, which is based both in London and Hong Kong, had a retail branch of its HSBC Republic subsidiary in 5 World Trade Center.

A spokesman in Hong Kong said all HSBC employees in New York were safe and accounted for. But he added that HSBC's traders and analysts feared for customers or former colleagues.

"Many of my people knew or had dealings with people in those towers," spokesman Pierre Goad said. "This tragedy has been felt in a close and personal way."

The close-knit world of corporate finance will be reeling for some time. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a leading investment bank and prominent house for bank analysis, took up three floors in 2 World Trade Center.

Credit Suisse First Boston had back-office operations in the Twin Towers. There was no word from the company yet on the employees' safety.

A Hong Kong spokesman for Dutch investment bank ABN Amro said the company knows of no casualties to its employees.

ABN Amro recently consolidated operations out of the World Trade Center, after buying the U.S. investment-bank business of fellow Dutch house ING Barings.

ABN Amro management in New York issued a notice to workers.

"To the best of our knowledge, none of our staff in New York have been injured as a result of today's appalling events," it stated.

Still, the ramifications of Tuesday's attacks will be felt forever in the world of finance.

"Wall Street is, as you know, a pretty close unit," Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman Bob Hormat told CNN. Goldman's offices are further uptown, but it is not removed from the fate of its rivals.

"They're competitors but they're also companies we cooperate with on a day to day basis," Hormat said. "The psychological impact is going to be enormous."

Beyond financials, a large number of companies in other services, including engineering, architecture, law and transportation, operated out of the Twin Towers.

Authorities are still unsure how many died in the attacks in New York. But they said the death toll could rise into the thousands. Among firemen alone, 300 were missing.

Officials in Washington, D.C., also said around 800 people may have died at the Pentagon.

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