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America Under Attack: Terrorist Launch Successful Attacks Against Targets In New York And Washington

Aired September 11, 2001 - 14:10   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Phil Zepeda is with the American Red Cross and he is on the phone with us.

Mr. Zepeda, this is Aaron Brown. Can you hear me, OK?


BROWN: Tell me what sort of strain is on the Red Cross's resources right now?

ZEPEDA: Well, the American Red Cross responded immediately to all areas of this disaster. Right now, our focus is really on disaster relief, providing blood assistance, and any disaster mental health assistance we can provide around the country to both the survivors and the families who have been involved in this tragedy.

BROWN: Tell me what that means exactly. I understand the need for blood. Are you setting up shelters for people?

ZEPEDA: Sure. We have shelters both in New York City and in Washington D.C. that are set up to help people. There we have disaster mental health counselors that are able to meet with people, and to register people as they come in, and are trying to get away from the situation. We are set up in New York and Penn Station and Grand Central Station and in Washington D.C. and Fort Belvoir.

It is still chaos right now. We are in the process of ramping up our operations. While we did respond immediately. There is so much work to be done. And we're in the process of doing that right now. We have about 50,000 units of blood that are available for the effected areas, and the American Red Cross is looking at mobilizing that right now and putting that into place.

BROWN: And, Phil, as you were speaking, we were able to put up on the screen up numbers people can call if they can help. If you are sitting in Omaha, Nebraska today, is it helpful in this situation to be going to the blood bank and giving blood, or is too far away to with meaningful?

ZEPEDA: The message that the American Cross is putting out right now is to donate blood. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE -- G-I-V-E-L-I-F-E. or visit for more information. But giving blood is where our emphasis is right now. BROWN: No matter where you are in the country?

ZEPADA: Yes, no matter where you are in the country, or you can, you know, Contact your local hospital. if you're not in a Red Cross area. But 1-800-GIVE-LIFE is the best number to call.

BROWN: OK. So even if you are far away from the events of today, you can still be helpful, as areas certainly in New York and Washington, from what Judy said, serious shortage of blood. The American Red Cross can be helpful, your local hospital, your local blood bank can be helpful. We suspect before the day is out, fire stations around the country will be involved in these efforts as well.

Phil, thank you. Is there anything else, by the way, before I let you go that you want to say that would be helpful to our viewers or helpful to the Red Cross?

ZEPADA: Well, the Red Cross right now and our president, Dr. Bernadine Healy right now extend our heartfelt sorrows to all families and everyone that's been affected by this. We just urge people to donate blood.

BROWN: Thank you very much, Phil with the American Red Cross. Phil Zepada with the American Red Cross.

CNN's Miles O'Brien has been tracking the flight paths of these four planes that were involved.

Miles, are you able to hear me in Atlanta?


BROWN: And tell me what you've been able to figure out to this point.

O'BRIEN: As you probably know, Aaron, there are various commercial Web sites that allow you to track commercial aircraft. Now If you go to many of them right now, you're not going to get very far, because they are being overwhelmed by interest in people. But even if you could get some of the data, we have just learned from the Federal Aviation Administration that every domestic airliner that was in the area is now on the ground. This is unprecedented in aviation history in this country. There's not a plane flying right now. At any given moment, typically, there are 4,000 aircraft.

Now, let's take a look at what happened on American Airlines flight 11. It began in Boston, and it took off on time, 81 people aboard, nine crew members, two flight attendant and two pilots. And let's sort of track what happened with this flight. As it went across Massachusetts and went down into the Albany area, actually up in the Adirondacks, it took a sharp dog leg.

Now what's interesting about this flight is everything seemed to be normal. The altitude was about 29,000 feet. It was Gaining speed at about 450 knots. It took that sharp dogleg down across the Adirondacks, straight for New York. Now what will be interesting about this as this story unfolds will be, number one, listening to any air traffic control conversations, to get a sense of what, if anything, air traffic controllers were saying to this aircraft.

Undoubtedly this was spotted on the radar screens of course. They had quite a bit of time to watch this plane as it went toward New York. That's probably at least a 30-minute run there. And during the course of that time there, those air traffic controllers and those radar installations, New York Center, as it is called, would have been trying to contact American airlines flight 11 to indicate it's intentions. It must have a been horrifying scene for them. They were probably trying to clear air traffic out of the area.

Clearly, once those tapes become available, we'll have a little bit more knowledge. And if it is possible to locate any of the so- called black boxes, the flight data recorders, cockpit voice recorders, out of this particular aircraft, they'll obviously know more about what was going on very dramatic flight indeed. Now this is the first flight, this is flight that first impacted the first tower of the World Trade Center. And this is the first of four that we know about. Of course, four air hijackings which led to crashes and a tremendous amount of damage.

I'm getting this information from company called They are compiling their archival radar information from this morning, and as it becomes available, we'll be able to show the flight paths of the other three aircraft that are suspected in all of this, and we'll bring those to you as soon as we get that -- Aaron.

BROWN: All right, just a quick parenthetical questions, these tapes of the cockpit tower communications, do they exist on the ground?


BROWN: Or are they recorded in control towers, and then there is a different set of tapes that exist on the plane, correct?

O'BRIEN: Correct, exactly. It's important to bring out, there are two types of tapes in these incidents. The tapes on the ground are the ones that record the radio transmissions between the ground and the aircraft. And clearly, the flight controllers would have been calling this aircraft numerous times, and this would have been the case for the three others, if they deviated from courses, indicate -- trying to get some indication as to what was wrong, why the pilot changing courses so dramatically.

Now what will interesting to hear if there is some sort of response from these aircraft. This will give us some clue as to who might have been in control of the plane at the time, or if might have been some sort of struggle aboard, or if there was just a lack of struggle. There's a lot of mystery here obviously.

Now, ultimately, as they go through the wreckage in these cases, it's possible that investigators -- and there's good chance, because they have emergency locating devices on them, they will find these so- called black boxes, and on these blacks boxes, there might be much more information which might give authorities some clues as to who might be responsible.

BROWN: Several kinds of information. There's technical information in these black boxes, what the airplane was doing, in a sense. But there's also communications between the cabin crew that exist on those tapes, what pilot was saying to co-pilot, and we might be able to hear if the tapes are ever located, and what -- the people who take control of these planes, and that's clearly what happened. It seems clear that's what happened. What they were saying, whether these tapes will ever be found. Obviously, we don't yet know. But that is part of what will happen in the next days.

On this day, what is happening in both Washington, and New York and in a field outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a massive, massive rescue operation, a Massive triage operation. Thousands of people presumably have been hurt. Many people we suspect have died. Though many hours now since that first plane hit the Trade Center at 8:48 Eastern Time. We have yet to hear from any official in the city, any estimate here in New York of the number of people who have been hurt. We just know that hospitals are inundated, that hospitals are running very low on blood, and they need help here.

We know that the National Guard will be coming in here to New York to help, in support of the New York police department.

We would add here that a number of members, that we don't know how many, but after the police and fire responded to the two planes hitting the Trade Center, many police officers, many firefighters, many EMS personnel, were in the area when the building collapsed. How many of them were hurt, we do not know. But we've been told by two officials, or former officials for the city, that any number of people, police and fire officials have been hurt as well.



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