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Dead in towers could be 'in the thousands'

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday indicated the final death toll in the World Trade Center attacks could amount to a few thousand in each of the two towers.

"The numbers we are working with are in the thousands," Giuliani told reporters at a briefing, the day after hijacked airliners crashed into the twin 110-story trade center towers. "The best estimate we can make ... is that there will be a few thousand people left in each building."

Wednesday night, Giuliani said 82 bodies have been recovered. He said the missing include about 300 firefighters, 40 police officers and 30 port authority officers who rushed to the towers of the Trade Center shortly both collapsed.

Earlier, New York police officers at Battery Park, on the tip of Manhattan, said a makeshift morgue is "stacked with corpses."

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A Bellevue Hospital volunteer said the hospital has "admitted or treated" 253 patients, including 52 firefighters and 29 police officers for "everything from eye irritation to crushed chests."

Philip Purcell, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, said the "vast majority" of his financial company's 3,500 employees working in the WTC complex got out safely. But he said some people are still missing.

The professional services firm Marsh and McLennan Companies is still searching for 700 of its 1,700 employees who worked in the complex. Many MMC staffers were working on floors 93 through 100 of the north tower at 8:45 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the structure.

The communications office of Fiduciary Trust Company International, which has offices on the south tower's 90th and 94th through 97th floors, said at least 535 of its employees have been found but did not say how many people were working at the time of the attacks.

In Washington, where terrorists crashed an airliner into the Pentagon, officials said they expected the number of fatalities to be somewhere between 100 and 200.

Everyone aboard the four commercial airliners that were hijacked Tuesday died, a total of 266 people, according to American and United airlines.

Identification will require DNA testing

As recovery efforts continued Wednesday in New York, even top cops were stunned by the carnage at the scene. One ranking New York City police official feared that it would be difficult to identify many of the bodies.

"The extent of the trauma injury is overwhelming. Many survivors will grieve without their loved ones' remains," the official said.

The process of identifying victims is long and grisly. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said that the process will be similar to what was done during the Flight 800 tragedy in 1996.

With body parts strewn throughout the devastation, rescuers were picking up body parts and placing them in sealed bags on Wednesday.

Once a list of missing is compiled, DNA testing of the body parts will be done. The DNA found in a fingernail or piece of skin, for example, will be compared with DNA taken from a hair found at a victim's home or from DNA found in a parent's blood sample.

"Identifications will be made," one former FEMA official said. "But there will be families that will have nothing more to bury than a finger."

As New York City braced for the effort of rebuilding, with politicians delivering speeches mixing sadness with resolve, thousands of people and businesses were affected in the aftermath.

Con Edison reported that much or most of lower Manhattan had been removed from the utility grid. This was prompted by the danger posed by fire to the gas lines and to the utility's generators in the area.

According to Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin, 10,000 to 12,000 customers were without service south of Canal Street. In New York City one customer can represent an entire cooperative apartment building, or an entire firm, Clendenin said.

"So the number of persons without gas, or electricity is actually considerably higher," he said. The affected areas include the Battery Park City apartment complex.

Meanwhile, in Washington, members of Congress held a prayer vigil Wednesday in the Capitol rotunda -- one of hundreds of such services nationwide.

"We stand together tonight not as Democrats or Republicans but as citizens of the world, as Americans, as brothers and sisters with pain and with hurt," said Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. "We are a circle of trust that cannot be broken. We are one people. We are one family. We are one nation."

The Justice Department's Office of Victims of Crime has set up a phone line to provide information to families about victims and survivors: 1-800-331-0075.

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