Skip to main content
CNN.com /US
CNN TV

No hope of finding more survivors at Pentagon

flag
Firefighters and military personnel draped the U.S. flag over a side of the Pentagon.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon has revised downward the expected death toll from the terrorist attack that sent a jetliner plunging into the military headquarters.

In the first hours after Tuesday morning's attack it was feared as many as 800 lives may have been lost when the hijacked Boeing 757 slammed into the complex, setting off a fierce fire.

But word came Wednesday that the dead may number just over 200, including the 64 people on the plane.

Attack on America
 CNN.COM SPECIAL REPORT
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
 MORE STORIES
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
 EXTRA INFORMATION
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
 RESOURCES
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk


EXTRA INFORMATION
Learn more about the Pentagon  
 

However, there is no hope of finding any more survivors in the rubble that still smoldered 24 hours after American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon.

The intense heat and smoky blaze that resulted from the fully fueled jetliner crashing into the building has convinced Pentagon officials that anyone who might have survived the initial impact could not have survived the fire.

The attack penetrated three of the Pentagon's five rings, and the fire spread through the wooden roof. For now, roughly one-half of the Pentagon is closed, sealed off by armed sentries posted at all five rings on all five floors.

FBI evidence teams combing the area of impact along the building's perimeter found parts of the fuselage from the Boeing 757, said Michael Tamillow, a battalion chief and search and rescue expert for the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire Department. No large pieces apparently survived.

Agents also were looking for the plane's black box and flight data recorder

Visit by commander-in-chief

President Bush traveled by motorcade across the Potomac River to Arlington, Virginia, late Wednesday afternoon to view the damage.

Bush, accompanied by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, walked the grounds near the point of impact, which still smoldered.

He was greeted by a giant American flag, which had been unfurled moments before his arrival by fire and rescue workers from the five-story building's roof. The sides of the flag waved slowly in a light breeze, and Bush was visibly moved by his experience.

"Coming here makes me sad," Bush said in a hushed tone as he spoke to service members and emergency workers gathered on the grounds. "It also makes me angry, and our country will, however, not be cowed by terrorists, by people who don't share the same values we share ... by people who are willing to destroy people's lives."

The president circulated among the police officers, firefighters and soldiers, offering handshakes and words of encouragement. Many seemed grateful, given the grim spectacle before them and the magnitude of the cleanup task.

It will take months, if not years, to repair the damage to the Pentagon. Thousands of Pentagon workers -- including the chiefs of the Army and Navy -- have been relocated to temporary offices.

Air inside the Pentagon was heavy with the scent of an electrical fire. In corridors where workers gathered, water and electricity, phone lines and computers were in full use.

But many corridors ended in blacked-out hallways. Yellow tape and Defense Department policemen warned people away.

Troops get hint about retaliation

And in a recorded message to U.S. troops, Rumsfeld again hinted that military retaliation is coming.

"It is my duty as head of this department to tell you that more -- much more -- will be asked of you in the weeks and months ahead. This is especially true of those who are in the field. We face powerful and terrible enemies, enemies we intend to vanquish so that moments of horror like yesterday will be stopped," he said.

So far, the only military deployments are defensive -- an aircraft carrier off the coast of New York is one of dozens of ships patrolling the East and West coasts. Air National Guard planes are flying protective cover over major U.S. cities.

The attack on the Pentagon occurred shortly after two commercial airplanes were hijacked and flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Both towers eventually collapsed. A fourth plane that was hijacked crashed in a wooded area in Pennsylvania.

FBI sources said the jet that hit the Pentagon was an American Airlines flight that had been hijacked after taking off from Washington's Dulles International Airport bound for Los Angeles. There were 64 people on board, including the crew.

Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and lawyer who appeared on CNN, was on the flight, and she alerted her husband, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, that the plane was being hijacked, he told CNN.


Back to the top