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America Under Attack

Aired September 11, 2001 - 10:45   ET



UNIDENTIFIED CNN ANCHOR: Chris, stay with us.

It's extraordinary bit of information coming out of Washington now. Let me add to something that we said earlier. We have a report now that a large plane crashed this morning, north of the Somerset County Airport, which is in western Pennsylvania, not too terribly far from Pittsburgh, about 80 miles or so, a Boeing 767 jet. Don't know whose airline it was, whose airplane it was, and we don't have any details beyond that which I have just given you. We don't know -- we don't know -- if this is somehow connected to what has gone on in New York and Washington, but we do know that another plane has crashed, this one about 80 miles south of Pittsburgh, or at least to southeast of Pittsburgh.

Rose Arcy (ph), one of our producers here in New York joins us on the phone.

Rose, what do you have that is new?

ROSE ARCY, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, just a while ago, I think you saw that collapse of a top of the World Trade Center. Well, looks like a large chunk of that debris has hit a building very close by, about two blocks away, next to an elementary school, causing another explosion. So for the last few minutes, I have been watching people running from that direction. There was one man (TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES)

I've seen several emergency service workers carrying other emergency service workers from the scene. There is a haze everywhere. It's very, very difficult to see, but that there a whole area has been covered by an ash. It looks almost like snow.

People are coming up the street, running from the scene of this new explosion. You can see them slipping on the ash and literally having to drag each other up the street.

There is an incredible amount of panic down here in downtown Manhattan as people are realizing they really need to leave the area entirely, after spending the last hour or so watching this from afar.

AARON (ph): Rose, stay with us. Terrific work.

Let me throw another couple of pieces of information out, as we continue to put this altogether into a straight line, if we can. The United Nations has been evacuated; the United Nations building, on the East Side of Manhattan, has been evacuated. The city -- this is Election Day, a primary election for mayor and city council races in New York. That election has been postponed until further notice.

Obviously, we are we are in the middle of on extraordinary catastrophe that started about 8:45 Eastern time here in New York, when one plane crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. About a half an hour after that, as people were converging, as fire and police and rescue teams, were converging on the scene, a second plane appeared to the west of the Trade Center buildings and slammed into the second tower. That is what you just saw. Fires were shooting out the north and east side of the tower.

Shortly after that, we began to get reports of events taking place in Washington, an explosion which first came to us as a fire at the Pentagon. Now there are reports of a second hijacked plane heading towards the Pentagon. It is believed that one of the planes -- perhaps both, but one them, we have been told -- was an American Airlines 767 that hit one of the Trade Center towers.

About a half hour after that -- perhaps a little bit longer -- you lose track of time a little bit in these situations -- the south tower, the second tower -- the one to the left collapsed -- it collapsed in a cascade of smoke and spark. And what we cannot tell you is if there was a second explosion that caused that collapse, or if it was simply -- that is the first one, that is the south tower collapsing, and that was about a half hour, give or take, after the planes hit the tower.

Then shortly after that, just as the smoke was starting to clear away, the second tower -- that is what you are looking at now -- again this is not very long ago, 10 or 15 minutes ago -- the second tower -- it almost looks like one of those implosions of buildings that you see, except there is nothing controlled about this. This is devastation.

How many people? There are 50,000 people who normally go to work in the Trade Center buildings. How many of those people had arrived already, how many of those people were trapped in the upper stories, how many of those people have been hurt, how many of those people died we cannot tell you now. We can tell you that hospitals throughout the New York area are receiving literally hundreds of patients, and they are performing triage. They are trying to figure out who can be treated, who needs help first. This is sort of standard operating procedure.

We are just being told now that Israel has evacuated all its diplomatic missions around the world. Israel has evacuated its missions. We are told now that Yasser Arafat has condemned these attacks. We don't know yet who is behind them. Britain has condemned these attacks. Germany has convened its national security council, and we will check and see if events are going on in those places, or if that is simply a reaction to what has gone on here in Washington and in New York.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us on the phone from Washington -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: K Street, which is one of the major thoroughfares in Washington is at absolute gridlock. It takes about 15 minutes to drive one block. Ordinarily, at this time of day, there would be nothing near this kind of traffic. You see pedestrians filling the sidewalks, many of the businesses and offices having closed. You see cars absolutely pouring out of the parking lots, which is contributing to the absolutely horrendous traffic situation. Many people are trying to use their cell phones; however, cell phone service has become very difficult in this town because of the crush on circuits.

For the most part, people appear to be very calm and collected. I will tell you, though, that as I drove, I looked at the car next me, full of some young women who I would guess were in their 20s. Several of them were crying their eyes out, obviously very upset as they listened to the radio and heard the news of what is happening in this city and in New York, also.

Aaron, back to you.

AARON: Jeanne Meserve in Washington this morning, thanks -- as she and the rest of the organization continue to gather what facts we can, what facts are available in the wake of the extraordinary chaos that has followed this extraordinarily horrendous terrorist attack.

We are told one of the planes involved in this was a hijacked American Airlines 767 out of Logan Airport, in Boston. American Airlines will say what is known.

As you look at the White House being evacuated a short time ago. Or is that live. I'm not sure on my monitor which it is. I believe it is tape from a short time ago.

In any case, American Airlines will talk to reporters in about a half hour or so, at 11:30 Eastern time. One of its planes was involved in this. We will bring that press conference to you live when it happens.

Here in New York, hospitals are being overwhelmed as hundred of patients are being brought in and being treated.

we cannot tell you -- we would not even begin to guess -- what the numbers in this will be, how many people will have died by the time this day is over, how many injuries have taken place in both Washington and New York. But, as former Police Commissioner Howard Safir told us a few minutes ago, obviously, the numbers are going to be extraordinary.

Who do we have on the phone, guys? Help me out here.

Patty are you there?


What have you got? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About an hour ago, I was on the corner of Broadway and Park Place -- that's about a thousand yards from the World Trade Center when the first tower collapsed. It was a massive explosion. At the time, the police were trying desperately to evacuate people from the area. When that explosion occurred, it was a scene out of a horror film: People started stampeding away from it.




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