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Families of the missing clutch photos -- and hope

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Thousands of anguished people have lined up outside the armory in Manhattan, holding pictures of their missing loved ones.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- They stand by the hundreds outside the armory in Manhattan, holding pictures and hoping for word of their relatives and friends who were in or near the twin towers of the World Trade Center that crumbled under a terrorist attack.

Many of them, bleary-eyed from grief and worry, told stories of how they last heard from their loved ones, many making last-minute calls from within the burning 107-story buildings.

One woman said her friend, Sadie Ette, was on the 106th floor of the north tower, the first building that was struck by a hijacked jetliner shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

"She said, 'Oh, God, please save me,'" her friend said, clinging to a picture of her friend. "She was screaming that she was trapped and couldn't get out. She said, 'I don't know what to do, I'm coughing, the heat is coming. I need water. I need water.' And the phone dropped."

RESOURCES
CNN.com will be posting photos of people missing following the attacks on America, along with emergency contact numbers. Click here   for more information.
 

Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday the list of missing had grown to 4,763 people.

Families have been trapped in limbo since Tuesday's attack -- not certain whether to mourn the missing person or continue hoping that their wives, husbands, sisters, brothers or other relatives are alive.

Most carried homemade fliers with pictures and phone numbers. The posters were taped to police barricades, windows and telephone poles.

"We just have to find her. We know we will," said one woman holding a photo of her sister, Margaret Echtermann. "We covered all the hospitals."

Thousands have lined up to go inside the armory that has been converted into a center for family members near Gramercy Park.

There, they fill out the more than half-dozen pages of questions about their missing loved one. Questions such as color of eyes, hair, height, weight. And questions about the size and inscriptions of wedding bands, the color and length of fingernails. All aimed at identifying any recovered remains.

Once they tell everything they know about the person, they are allowed to examine two lists, one of the victims that have been hospitalized and another list of the remains that have been identified.

"I think everybody has hope," said one man searching for his brother-in-law. "But I think everybody is prepared to face what they have to face."

Many are haunted by the last words from their family members and friends in the moments during and after two hijacked planes slammed into the landmark twin towers, setting off an inferno that caused the buildings to collapse into a mountain of twisted metal and debris.

Michael Rodriguez said his sister, Lisa, called crying hysterically as she tried to leave the second tower as it burned.

"We don't know if she took the stairs or the elevator," he said. "She was in tower two on the 89th floor. When I got over there the building started collapsing so I had to run away."

The stories of others were similar -- a man looking for his brother who had just bought a new house for his wife and 7-month-old daughter; a woman who talked to her sister who was on the 94th floor of the first tower minutes before it exploded into flames -- all now frantically searching for any shred of evidence that might give them hope of finding their loved ones alive.

The anguish of the families is so great that it draws tears from reporters trying to cover the scene.

"I'm trying to keep the faith and I'm trying to search for him -- I want him to come home," said Milsa Riveras of her missing husband, Isaias.

It was her second trip through this type of nightmare because Isaias had also been working in the World Trade Center during the 1993 bombing.


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