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America Under Attack: Attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. Shock America

Aired September 12, 2001 - 03:30   ET


JOHNATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: The attacks on New York City and Washington on Tuesday will probably never be forgotten by those who experienced them firsthand or by the millions around the world who've seen them unfold.

CNN's Peter Viles takes a look now at the events as they happened.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just before 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Americans awakened to shocking pictures from New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just saw the entire top part of the World Trade Center explode.

VILES: Minutes earlier, at 8:45, a hijacked plane had slammed into one of the World Trade Center towers.

9:03 a.m. a sickening sight, a second plane crashes into the Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See the damage to that about the middle of the building. Just incredible what we are witnessing here.


VILES: People on the ground look on in horror as workers in the Trade Center Towers fall or maybe jump to their deaths.

9:30 a.m., the President in Florida.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

VILES: 9:40, all American airports have been closed, but there are still planes in the sky. And minutes later, one of them crashes into the Pentagon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several Army officers I talked to reported hearing a big explosion, seeing shards of metal.

VILES: 9:59, as the Pentagon burns, the south tower of the World Trade Center buckles and collapses.

10:29, the second Trade Center tower collapses. An American landmark is in ruins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is comes. I'm getting behind a car.

VILES: Thousands feared dead. Lower Manhattan shrouded in smoke and debris.

10:48, police in western Pennsylvania confirm that a fourth hijacked plane crashed a half hour earlier outside Pittsburgh.

Noon, shock and disbelief. As the dead and wounded are taken to East coast hospitals, officials in New York and Washington report a shortage of blood and appeal to Americans to donate their blood.

Late afternoon, New Yorkers are evacuating lower Manhattan by the thousands. Parts of the city unrecognizable. A third building at the Trade Center, this one 47 stories, collapses. At Bellevue Hospital, an official says "it is a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions."

Peter Viles, CNN, New York.


ELISA DE SILVO, CNN ANCHOR: Well now, I want to show you the latest pictures that we have from the aftermath of the terror attack in New York. We are now going to roll some pictures for you, the latest night time scene. A rescue effort underway.

MANN: As we watch these pictures, we can share the emotion of many people on the scene who have been struck by both the enormity of the tragedy and the very small number of people who have emerged to be helped for (INAUDIBLE).

DE SILVO: Rescue workers sifting through the dust, debris, also dealing with their emotions of the horrific scene. Some have described the eruptions like the aftermath of an eruption of a volcano. There is so much dust.

MANN: Those firefighters you're seeing at work now are carrying an insupportable load. Not only are they dealing with the aftermath of this terrible attack, but they know that hundreds of their colleagues, hundreds of firefighters who were first on the scene, helping the people inside the Twin Towers are unaccounted for. Firefighters themselves, hundreds of them, are among those feared dead.

DE SILVO: Also not clear how stable the structures are. A third structure, building 7, collapsed later in the day, hours after the first two structures, the twin towers collapsed.

MANN: The lack of clarity is the stunning thing. This is the 21st century, the information age. And this attack, much of it, happened on live television. And yet, even now, it's not clear who carried out the attack, how they managed it , or how many people have been wounded, how many people have been killed.

The numbers that we have gotten are still so low, the scale of the tragedy in New York and Washington so great, that authorities have been reluctant to speculate on what the final toll will be. And as we heard from CNN's Garrick Utley in New York just a short time ago, it may be weeks before all of those who were unaccounted for are pulled from the rubble of New York City.

All of these pictures are very close up. In other images that we have seen of New York, what is so striking is that there is still smoke darkening the night sky. The smoke above lit by the lights that are lighting this scene. The emergency crew lights, 20 trucks or so of spotlights and searchlights that have been brought in to assist the work.

We're all watching this, but many people have a much more direct attachment, a much more direct link to some of the people who may be in those buildings. The U.S. Justice Department has set up a hotline for families for those who may have been wounded or killed in these attacks. They're encouraged to call 1-800-331-0075. There, they'll be information about the victims, as well as the hope that they'll be able to provide authorities with information.

The airlines have also made available telephone numbers for those concerned about family members. Relatives of American Airlines passengers seeking information can call 1-800-245-0999.

United Airlines says friends or family members seeking information on their flights can call 1-800-932-8555. United also says it will post information on its web site. That's

DE SILVO: And joining us now for more perspective on Tuesday's events is terrorism expert Magnus Rangstorp of St. Andrews University of Scotland. Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Rangstorp.

First of all, how could this kind of an attack of this magnitude, so well organized and concerted, have happened?

MAGNUS RANGSTORP, DIR., CTR. FOR STUDY OF TERRORISM: Well, it's very synchronized attack, particularly in terms of the multiplicity of attacks simultaneously against so many targets. The problem is that, principally that U.S. intelligence do not have human intelligence, the capability of infiltrating the Alcada (ph) network or the network of Bin Laden's followers.

So therefore, there has been a generic threat, continues since 1996, when Bin Laden declared a war in America. However specifically, it's been very difficult to guard against individuals who have been inserted on long strike operations like this.

DE SILVO: Certainly you mentioned Bin Laden's followers. There is, so far, no definitive proof that it was Bin Laden or his followers. Although U.S. intelligence officers do say that they are focusing on this, but they're also not ruling out other possibilities.

What are your thoughts on who could've carried this out? RANGSTORP: Well, I also would caution against pointing just at Bin Laden. It can be a combination of different things. Bin Laden is a multinational enterprise in terms of having operatives from a number of different countries.

He has a financial enterprise all around the world, stretching -- the principle command and control leaders of the Bin Laden's Alcada (ph) group, apart from Afghans, is Egyptians, Algerians, who are the core of may of these types of operations, particularly the Algerian groups, who have been used in operations of this -- not on this magnitude, but in terms of operations in Europe in the past.

DE SILVO: And still, it is just mindboggling at how they could possibly carry out a strike on the Pentagon.

RANGSTORP: Well, United States has been preparing for a mass casualty event, principally focusing on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. And of course, this issue or this incident of finding the softest, weakest link in the security chain has meant that the groups have been, in looking at very simple conventional means, in terms of circumventing security measures. And in this case, airplanes have been the preferred method.

DE SILVO: What are the measures that need to be taken in the aftermath of this?

RANGSTORP: Well, I mean, I think there would be wide ranging consequences, consequences in terms of how do we respond? Do we respond militarily, without firm evidence? In terms of airport security, civil aviation security, there will be, I think, a large look, examination of where that is going.

And also, of course, our principle focus at the moment has to be with the rescue operation. And secondarily, how do we respond using the wide variety of counterterrorism tools we have at our disposal, principle amount which is, of course, intelligence, human intelligence as a front-line in terms of our defense.

DE SILVO: Mr. Rangstorp, thank you very much for joining us. John?

MANN: 18 hours after the attack on the World Trade Centers in New York, work continues as we've been watching in the rubble, to try to find survivors. Garrick Utley has the latest from New York now. Garrick?

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the things that happens, Jonathan, in a situation, a tragedy such as this, of course, is the whole mobilization of city and state and federal and volunteer efforts, rescue efforts, that descended in the lower part of Manhattan today.

We've heard several times from Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but Governor Pataki of the state of New York was also on the scene today. We have some videotape of this. The governor of course, the state capitol is in Albany. But he was in lower Manhattan today. Actually, the governor also has an office in New York City, in the World Trade Center or it was in the World Trade Center. He was, of course, not there today when the planes struck the twin towers. But much of the governor's time is spent there in lower Manhattan.

They, of course, as all public officials need to do and want to do, he was out there seen and being seen, supervising the rescue efforts.

The most important single contribution that the state of New York has made, the governor's made is mobilizing a good portion of the national guard. 3,000 members of the New York state National Guard are being mobilized. They will be in Manhattan tomorrow to assist the seriously overstressed and overworked New York City police force there.

Security is one problem, of course. Just an extra 3,000 pair of hands is going to be very important, as the rescue efforts pick up speed tomorrow.

We're seeing some of the night time shots. The governor, as well as the mayor, were out there again this evening. You notice the ubiquitous face masks that everybody is wearing because of the dust.

The smoke has dissipated by now from the explosions, but the dust, you see it there, dust everywhere. Dust in the air. And it's been one of the greatest dangers for any body, journalists, people who were in the explosion throughout this day.

Again, some of the night time scenes. The floodlights have been brought in because the entire area around the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan has lost electric power. It means thousands of people who live in that area, most of whom were working in the financial district, have had to evacuate the apartments.

They've gone into shelters run by the Red Cross and the city. Thousands of them. It's not known how many nights they'll have to spend there, but it -- one person, one specialist in the rescue effort said they're not going to be going home soon.

Again, we're getting an example of the dimensions of the equipment, the heavy earth moving and building moving equipment that's been brought in.

Governor Pataki, in one of the several visits to the disaster area today. Just one example of what has been happening, what continues to happen in lower Manhattan. Even as we speak now, shortly before 4:00 a.m. Eastern time.

Back to you now, Jonathan.

MANN: Garrick Utley, thanks very much.


DE SILVO: John, oil prices have surged in early Asian trading no concerns of the mounting tension in the Middle East after the deadly terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Brent crude oil for spot delivery was fetching between $30 U.S. and $31 a barrel, compared to $24 before the attack.

We're joined now by the OPEC secretary-general, Ari Rodriguez. He joins us on the phone from Vienna to talk about this.

Mr. Rodriguez, thank you very much for joining us.


DE SILVO: What is OPEC's response to what has been happening today?

RODRIGUEZ: Well first of all, to President Bush and all the relatives of the victims, our confidence, our sympathy. Related with the oil prices, I expressed yesterday on behalf on the oil member countries, that we will maintain objectives to guarantee the stability in the market.

If necessary, we will take additional policies, measures in order to maintain that. This situation on the price yesterday in the futures market depends only the speculation activities, but not a shortage supplies in the market.

DE SILVO: Mr. Rodriguez, what specific measures is OPEC ready to take if oil prices continue to climb?

RODRIGUEZ: First of all, we have to analyze if the prices depends in the situation of supply because of the speculation is very bad -- factored or impact the price. Even when the market is balanced, in this time, the market is balanced, sufficient to or guarantee to satisfy the demand in this moment.

DE SILVO: Mr. Rodriguez, thank you very much.

RODRIGUEZ: You are welcome.

MANN: Other markets have been responding to the attacks in New York and Washington. Richard Quest joins us now from London, where he's been watching the numbers. Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN LONDON: Yes, Jonathan. Perhaps, obviously, because none of the New York markets, none of the U.S. markets were trading at all on Tuesday. So the reaction from the financial world to the events came in Europe. We saw very sharp falls on both the London, the Frankfurt and the Paris market.

Overnight in Asia, the Pacific markets also heavily down. The largest loss is being seen in Hong Kong where the market dropped some 10 percent.

This morning in London, it's just coming up to around a quarter to 9:00 and trading's been going on for round about 45 minutes to an hour. We saw initial losses in all the major markets. That has now reversed. And I can tell you the London FTSE, for example, the Frankfurt DAX is just up a tad. The CAC Courant in Paris is down.

To put this into perspective though, because it might seem extremely old that European markets are actually up a small amount, very little is being done. People in the city of London, across the whole financial community of Europe are coming to grips with what has happened.

There is simply not much trading taking place. And everybody is really looking for some form of direction. That direction would normally, of course, come from the U.S. markets. We're waiting to hear what the European central bank president, Vin Dowzenberg (ph) is saying. We know of course that the Fed has already promised extra money, so-called liquidity in the words of the financial world.

We're waiting to see what Mr. Dowzenberg (ph), who's due to give a press conference any time now, is going to say on that.

MANN: Thanks very much. Elisa?

DE SILVA: Away from the carnage in New York City and Washington, Americans were trying to make sense of the attacks. Some sat transfixed in front of the televisions, but others couldn't bear to watch.

John Zarella has this report.


JOHN ZARELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not sure what might happen next, Marco Andriozzi decided to fill up his car just in case.

MARCO ANDRIOZZI: I'm on empty, so I figured it was the best time to work on it rather than waiting for a mess.

ZARELLA: Jody Nicaterra simply couldn't watch the horrific pictures any longer. She went grocery shopping.

JODY NICATERRA: We've been watching the news all morning, and it was just good to get out of the house and try to take our minds off things for a while.

ZARELLA: In the first hours after the terrorist attacks, banks and schools and universities closed. Court houses were secured. A police station is barricaded with squad cards. In Dallas, a popular tourist area, shut down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is ghost town. This is a ghost town.

ZARELLA: Americans seemed uncertain what they should do, but they all seemed to believe they needed to be doing something. In San Francisco, as in many corners of the nation, parents rushed to schools to pick up their children. Others knew giving blood could save lives in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just was watching it and felt like I needed to do something and just felt like the only thing I could do.

ZARELLA: With phone traffic overloading circuits in New York, a ham radio operator in Miami did what he could to get anxious relatives' answers about their loved ones.

Talking seemed for many a catharsis.

Not in 60 years had the world changed so dramatically, so quickly.

John Zarella, CNN, Miami.


DE SILVO: So what was it like to witness the attack on the World Trade Center? Some remarkable amateur video now from Dr. Mark Heath, who went to see if he could he could help victims of the first attack and wound up being caught in the second.


MARK HEATH, PHYSICIAN: I hope I live. I hope I live. It's coming down on me. Here it comes. I'm getting behind a car. It's incredible. OK, I have to go find people who need help because I don't think I'm one of them. Are you okay, sir? OK. Could I just get a toot off your respirator? Can I get a toot? I'm just getting a couple of clean breaths.

That's good. OK. Back to you.

This is the car I hid behind. It saved my life. Maybe it was this one. There's all these noises. I think it -- I don't know what it is. They say someone needs help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, Mike come over here.

HEATH: Anybody need a doctor? Don't have oxygen. That guy needs some oxygen, if someone can share it with him.


HEATH: Thanks. They told me just to wait here at this semi- staging here. (INAUDIBLE), that's what I'm doing. They won't let me go any closer.

I know I can go in to get the people out. There are small explosions still going on.

So far, I'd just seen some people who needed oxygen from the dust. You know, who had gone into trauma. Going to go wash my eyes out. It almost made it worst. Looking north on the west side highway. You guys going in?


HEATH: I'll come with you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

HEATH: You know, I don't want to get too much closer because they won't be able to come down. And then we're not going to tell help anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, what do you want to do?

HEATH: Yes, OK. Let's just wait right here. Let's just station up right here, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, doctor.

HEATH: Why don't we set up. Can you hang IDs from this pole here?


HEATH: OK. We just heard another explosion. They're handing out gloves and masks. The consensus is it's too unsafe to go in there. Just going to wait here until they bring some people out. I took some firemen with some first aid stuff.

You know what? Why don't we just set this up as a little mobile hospital unit right here, OK?


HEATH: Any suggestions? Can we set up here for medical work.


DE SILVO: Again, that amateur video from Dr. Mark Heath, an amazing act of bravery trying to help.

MANN: And another glimpse of what has been an extraordinarily public tragedy unfolding in front of television cameras and as a result, in front of the whole world.

DE SILVO: And it's been 19 hours now since the first plane hit the World Trade Center building. Let's take a look at the scene now, 19 hours later.

MANN: What you're looking at is a nightmare that is going to continue well beyond dawn. You can see the emergency crews at work and the mess of what was one of the great financial centers of the world, the twin towers of the World Trade Center. 110 stories in two buildings brought down. A 47 story building in the same complex brought down as well.

And that's what remains, dirt and rubble. And somewhere in it, an uncounted member of people alive and dead. There are in some places, two feet of soot and paper in other places, a mound of rubble. And firefighters are on the scene. Emergency workers are on the scene, trying to find out, who, if anyone, is still alive. DE SILVO: Including some firefighters, more than 300 who are unaccounted for and feared dead. Several dozen police officers also rushed to the scene to try and help.

President Bush spoke to the nation sometime ago. He said thousands of people may be dead. We do not know. The author of the attacks still unknown. The means, they took control of the two planes and crashed into the twin towers, still unknown. But there are details of this story emerging from the United States, from elsewhere around the world. We'll have full details at the top of the hour.

Besides those are fear dead, possibly the thousands in the twin towers of the World Trade Center buildings. There have been 266 passengers on the 4 hijacked planes. And as we mentioned, the 300, more than 300 New York firefighters still missing.

Acts of terrorism that almost beyond comprehension. Hijackers seize control of 4 planes, including 2 that crash into the World Trade Center.

MANN: The Pentagon shares a similar fate, as the U.S. vows to hunt down and punish those responsible.



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