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America Under Attack: New York Authorities Wait for Area to be Secured to Go In

Aired September 11, 2001 - 14:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It is enormity that's a little bit hard to get our arms around right now. Still, some considerable number of hours since the first attack on the World Trade Center here in New York. And I want to show some pictures of the scene from the ground. First, let me just -- piece of information: United Airlines has now canceled all flights, grounded all flights, until 6:00 tomorrow morning.

This is the scene that started to play out, this would be a little after 9:00 when the first of the Trade Centers collapsed after they were hit. People gathering, watching. You can see this -- the denseness, the denseness of the smoke.

People leaving in very orderly, calm way, that's been the reports all morning and afternoon long. One witness who was in the building talked about coming down the stairwell, and the people were very quiet. There was no screaming, no crying. People shielding themselves against the smoke.

We know that a number of New York City police and fire department personnel have been injured, perhaps some fatally, when the buildings collapsed. We know that hospitals here in New York are in desperate need of blood. We know the National Guard will be coming into the city to help and support the 40,000 members of the New York City police department.

We know that subway service through -- in Manhattan has been shut down. People evacuating, streams of people through the streets. There are 50,000 people who go to work just in the Trade Center buildings, the two towers. How many of them were there at the time we do not know. Thousands, tens of thousands more pass through, getting on and off trains, going to the retail shops and restaurants.

Everyone of those lives changed today, as perhaps in some way all of our lives have been changed today. It all began at 8:45 this morning. And behind us now, the smoke continues to pour out of the area where the Trade Center towers where. They are no more. They collapsed in the hour after the attack, but the smoke continues to pour through the area behind us, about 30 blocks away, in one of those scenes that none of us will ever forget.

CNN correspondent Richard Roth has been on the streets here in Lower Manhattan -- Richard. RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Aaron, not chaos here. It's almost eerily silent, although the march of thousands of New Yorkers, evacuating Southern Manhattan, looking to go to New Jersey to get off this island. Dazed, stunned, people concerned about loved ones. Cell phones not working.

New Yorkers are used to coping with a lot of things here. There have been some bombings and hurricanes and calamities, but really nothing like this before. And of course, behind me are the clouds where the World Trade Center stood, two towers built in 1970.

A short time ago, Port Authority police official -- the Port Authority is the state unit that runs, in effect, the World Trade Center, those building that formerly existed, and one of the police officials there, William Hall, said there's no search going on right now. He said until the fires go out, until it is safe for his people and others rescue workers to go in, they are not moving in there. He said on an average day the two World Trade Center towers get 10,000 people each, with 5,000 visitors.

A New York City official told us a short time ago that another triage center is going to be set here, on the West Side of Manhattan, 33rd Street area, in the Jacob Javitz Convention Center -- this to handle additional overflow from New York hospitals, which New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says have been their best in coping with it, but there have been calls for blood.

People here walking by me -- someone will point to someone and say, "this person was in the World Trade Center, just got out." You can hear behind me there's the roar of military aircraft, the only aircraft you see in the sky. And usually, as New Yorkers will tell you, you can look up at any time and see a plane. They are up in the sky.

Concerned look from people who gaze upward, shield their eyes, to see just what's going on. And an occasional police helicopter. But here in New York City, there is no search going on. William Hall of the Port Authority said we are going to have to wait until we get things all accounted for before we go in there -- Aaron.

BROWN: Richard, thank you. Richard Roth in Lower Manhattan.

Again, just a quick recap for those of you who may just be getting home and hearing these events for the first time. 8:48 this morning, it's one of those moments that everyone will remember. The first plane, American Airlines flight 11, Boston to Los Angeles, hijacked, crashed into the first Trade Center tower. At 9:04, the second plane, the United Airlines, flight United 175, Boston to Los Angeles, hit the second tower.

About a half-hour later, 9:38 Eastern Time, American Airlines flight 77, Washington-Dulles Airport to Los Angeles, crashed into the Pentagon, hitting just short of the Pentagon itself, and perhaps that was most fortunate, and at 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time, United flight 93, Newark to San Francisco, crashed about 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. Those are the times and the events. They don't begin to describe what has happened. What has happened is not simply not a series of moments,but something much larger.

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