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America Under Attack: Terrorist Attacks Wreak Havoc Across U.S.

Aired September 12, 2001 - 04:00   ET


JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: There is enormous uncertainty now, the money is one thing, but the center of everyone's concern, of course, the people. It could be weeks before the fate of all those who were in or near the World Trade Center is known.

Michael Holmes has more.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Move it, come on. Let's go, let's go.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even in the chaos of the aftermath, it was clear the casualty list would be obscenely long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to know. You don't want to know. You don't want to know the things that we are stepping over. It was horrific, absolutely horrific.

HOLMES: Survivors, the walking wounded and those who were just passing by the World Trade Center, ghostlike, covered in dust and ash and disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you go over by it, you can see the people jumping out the window. They're jumping out the window right now, oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody was on top each other trying to come down, and then somebody finally calmed the crowd down to get them to come down the stairs in an orderly fashion and get them out of the building.

HOLMES: The dust was everywhere, blanketing entire city blocks, an eerie war zone scene. Stunned survivors being guided to buses or simply walking silently away from the scene. Emergency workers did their jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't we set this up as a little mobile hospital unit right here, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. HOLMES: Witnesses spoke of how eerily calm the survivors, even the injured, appeared to be. People ran but there was little hysteria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, got to move back.

HOLMES: The buildings housed thousands of workers, thousands more visited each day. It will be days, maybe weeks before the number of dead is known. It could be in the thousands. It all depends on how many of those 10,000 workers managed to evacuate before the buildings collapsed. The injured are easier to count, and they too number in the thousands.

There are 170 hospitals in the New York area and all were on maximum alert. Many swamped with casualties. Injuries ranging from shock and asthma attacks brought on by that dust through to broken bones and severe head injuries. And then there were the burns. Hundreds of people burned from head to toe, said one doctor. Here, another on what he saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was one a burn patient -- I mean it's very difficult to see burn patients. They're charred -- they're charred, their skin is coming off, they're in tremendous pain and you know it's tremendous suffering.

HOLMES: Officials were worried about blood supplies, but as soon as that became known, hundreds of New Yorkers lined up to donate, as did Americans across the country, jamming donation centers. Disaster relief agencies working with the military to transport thousands of pints of blood to New York City and to Washington where survivors of the Pentagon attack were also in need.

Among the dead and injured in New York, hundreds of firefighters, rescue workers, police officers, people who'd gone to the scene after the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers to help the injured and evacuate the survivors. They were inside when the buildings collapsed, and at last count, more than half of the 400 firefighters who went to the scene never reported back.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Assuming they got any sleep overnight, Americans will be waking up this day to headlines that will probably still seem very unreal. In some ways, this might be seen as the day the 21st century really began for the American people.

Back now to New York and once again our Garrick Utley.

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) talking or speaking of headlines, we've just got the first edition of one New York newspaper, it's the "New York Post." As you can see here, Act of War is on the front page, get it right there. World Trade Center bombed and there's the picture, the still photo of that one plane heading into one of the World Trade Center towers. We're still waiting for the "New York Daily News" and the "New York Times." They're having trouble getting their papers in, as "The Post" did, from across the rivers where the printing plants are located because the bridges and the tunnels have been closed.

Today we see many of these images and yet things that were not captured on videotape can also be very telling and very important. For example, early this evening, I experienced two or three things. The skies were quiet over Manhattan after the explosions occurred because air traffic, of course, had been grounded, until about 7:00 this evening and suddenly I was outside and I heard a noise -- a strange noise. It was a U.S. Air Force fighter plane flying over Manhattan. One fighter, rather high, streaking across this city. Never heard that before here.

A few minutes' later, trying to get transportation and no taxis in town, very few buses or subways were running. At the edge of Central Park, where tourists love to come, there was one of those horse drawn carriages, the handsome cabs, just one, a horse, the carriage and its rider -- its driver looking for fares, alone in an empty street at Central Park South. But there were no customers out on the streets this evening.

Finally you find a bus and get on a New York City bus and guess what, no charge, everybody rides free these days and these nights in Manhattan.

Those are some of the little things that aren't recorded on videotape. And here now with some of the pictures we've really being seeing over these past several hours, let's go to them once again.

We saw this extraordinary site, the exodus. You really can't call it anything more than that. People leaving Manhattan this afternoon. Maybe you've seen these scenes before and Lower Manhattan, the Manhattan -- the Brooklyn Bridge, famous to so many people, just look at that. And look how orderly everyone is, concern, anxiety certainly, but order, no panic here. Amazing in view of what had just happened a few minutes before.

After the planes struck the building, it comes down. Only 30, 31 years old the World Trade Center towers and down they came. Down they came after the fire in the towers reached 1,500 or 1,600 degrees or even more. That melted the steel. As it melted the steel shell or frame, the floors collapsed, each on the other and down they came into rubble.

And amid this, the chaos. Understandable chaos, confusion, fear, fleeing -- the pure basic human instinct of self-preservation. And yet even in these scenes again and again, the reports of how many individuals helped each other, help pull them along, their friends, their colleagues.

And tonight, the rescue efforts continue. Heavy machinery as well as floodlights run off portable generators have been brought in. They're up to 10,000 rescue workers in Manhattan working day and night. Still no estimates as to what the casualties will be in the World Trade Center bombings, but the work continues. It has only begun.

Which also raises another question, a question that New Yorkers will be asking as they get up this morning and perhaps people across the nation will be asking too: Was this it? Is it now over? As horrendous as it was, was the taking down of the two towers here, the bombing of the Pentagon, the bombing of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, is that the end of this terrorist attack by whomever organized it or could there be more attacks? We don't know. We don't want to raise any undo concern, but the fact that New York City security officials and federal officials, security officials are saying keep the bridges and the tunnels closed tomorrow, keep the airports closed, keep the planes grounded means they are obviously very concerned for there may still be another attack out there, some terrorist out there.

UTLEY: Earlier this evening, bomb squads were to be seen racing through the city, checking out every suspicious vehicle. They don't know, the security people, we don't know. Of course we'll never know until it happens again, if it does -- Ralitsa.

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: Garrick, certainly there is a massive loss of a sense of security that Americans will have after this event.

UTLEY: Certainly, there's no question about this. This is, as has been said many times today, the single most traumatic direct attack on American territory and lives since December 7, 1941, and this, too, will be a day that will last much -- for many, many years in infamy. And yet I think Americans are not totally surprised by this. Shocked yes, surprised no. We understand the world today. We understand the dangers. We see what happens in the Middle East. We understand the terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere in this world. We see it by the satellite all the time, we see it in the news, and so this scene is a reminder that, yes, it could happen again.

It is, as somebody else observed looking at these documents, these memos, these expense accounts, the letters that floated down from the World Trade Center towers, whatever the high-tech age has brought us, we are not yet a paperless society.

VASSILEVA: Garrick,...

UTLEY: So much invested in those papers and those lives and in those jobs.

Yes, Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Garrick, thank you very much.


MANN: Many nations around the world are more familiar with terrorism than the United States has been -- had been, but still the reaction elsewhere has been enormous shock.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour joins us from London -- Christiane. CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, indeed the day after the sense of shock and naked fear is growing not diminishing. Here the normally stayed British newspapers, the broad sheets (ph) are using headlines like Doomsday America. The cerebral "Financial Times" has got a massive front page which says Assault on America. And even "Le Figaro" in France saying The New War.

The sense here is that this is an act of unparalleled barbarism. It is not just the biggest single act of terrorism on U.S. soil, but according to everybody I've asked, this is the single biggest recorded act of terrorism in our memory. We can't think of anywhere that something like this has happened as far as we can see way back even in 50 years.

The British Cabinet is meeting in emergency security session today. The Prime Minister has gathered his Home Secretary, otherwise known as the Interior Minister, his Foreign and Defense Secretaries. They have issued statements. Certainly last night, the British Prime Minister saying that all democracies in all the world must now unite not only to defeat but to eradicate this act of barbarism and these kinds of movement that create this kind of upheaval and disaster and calamity.

The French President Jacques Chirac called this an attack on freedom itself. The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called it an attack on the entire civilized world. Presidents across Europe from Russia to Italy to France to Germany are all saying that the world, the democracies must stand firm not only offering moral support and sympathy to the United States but a new resolve to combat this kind of naked aggression, they're saying.

In the Arab world, all the moderate Arab leaders, most of whom are allies of the United States, have condemned this. Even Libya, which has its history of antagonism with the United States, has condemned this attack and has sent sympathy to the United States. The only country not doing so is Iraq, which, as we know, is in current state of ongoing war with the United States, and in fact, the United Kingdom.

Here in Britain there has been heightened security not only at the airports, where I flew in today, where there are policemen with submachine guns at the entrances to the airport, there are no planes allowed to fly over Central London, but also in other areas government buildings there is a heightened state of alert as there are in many other capitals. It is increasingly jittery.

We've heard stories and reports of hoaxes, fake bomb alerts, people being told they had to evacuate a building in Frankfurt only to discover that this, in fact, was not a real attack. And indeed Downing Street, the Prime Minister's residence here in Britain, was evacuated of all the journalists shortly before their national security meeting and no reason was given for that. But a state of shock settling in here and around the world -- Jonathan.

MANN: Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Now for more in the mood in Paris we're joined by Jim Bittermann -- Jim.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ralitsa, good morning.

The news here has been dominated, of course, by the attack this morning. One of France's leading commentators said that we are entering a new world here this morning, a world which we dominated between the conflict -- will be dominated by the conflict between a radical Islam and the West. And he said that September 11 will mark a pivotal date between the before and after that conflict. Afterwards, of course, there was swift reaction on the streets here in Paris.


BITTERMANN (voice-over): Within hours of the attack in New York, the American Embassy in Paris was closed and evacuated, the employees told to go home. It remains closed this morning and there's no sign of when it might open again.

At American institutions around town, there is much tighter security this morning, most remain open but American flags have been withdrawn from outside the buildings in case anyone should want to try another attack. At the American Cathedral, a service is scheduled for later on today.

President Jacques Chirac went on television last night to call the American attacks a terrible tragedy and he ordered a top security alert which will mobilize thousands of French troops and put them on the streets of Paris. But so far this morning, there is little sign of any military activity and it's not clear that there has been any specific threat to the country.

Nonetheless, French on the street this morning were nervous about what happened in New York and feeling very vulnerable even here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't feeling security nowhere now.

BITTERMANN: You don't feel secure anywhere?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is safe in this -- in his own country and this is awful I think.


BITTERMANN: There's a special meeting of France's Anti-Terrorism Committee going on right now. Once again, the Interior Minister has emphasized that there is no specific threat against France. One leading newspaper as many have compared the attack in New York to Pearl Harbor but it took it one step further saying that like the attack on Pearl Harbor, perhaps the attack on New York will bring the United States out of its isolationism -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Jim, what kind of offers for help to the U.S. are being contemplated? BITTERMANN: The French have offered to do anything they can to help in this situation. I think they have felt (ph) a sense of special teams to help look for victims in the rubble, but basically, there's not a whole lot they can do from here. They have canceled, by the way, I should have probably mentioned, they've canceled all further Air France flights today to the United States just as a precautionary measure so we're seeing that kind of global shutdown of the airlines that we saw yesterday afternoon. It looks like it's going to take place at least through part of the day today -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Jim, thank you -- Jon.

MANN: Beyond France, the European Union as a whole is trying to make its voice and concern known. Diana Muriel joins us now with the latest from a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels -- Diana.

DIANA MURIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jon, in fact there's a series of emergency meetings taking place here in Brussels. Right now the European Commission is holding an emergency session. We'll be hearing more from them in a press conference in approximately an hour and a quarter where Romano Prodi, the head of the European Commission, is likely to make some remarks as well as Chris Patten, who's the Commissioner for External Relations.

As you said, the European Union foreign ministers will also be holding a meeting this afternoon here in Brussels and we'll be hearing more from them later. And NATO, which has canceled a meeting in Budapest, the chiefs of NATO returning to Brussels, they'll be holding their own meeting later and again, a press conference. In fact, the Permanent Security Council of NATO is currently in its second meeting of the day in coordination with the U.S. authorities coordinating security measures here in Europe.

At the same time, the response here in Brussels is one of absolute shock. In fact, the Belgium authorities have provided a team of five medical officers who are specialists in burns from the burns unit of the major hospital here in Brussels. We understand that they will be sent to America in response to American requests for assistance as well as five police officers from the federal police here who are specialists in identifying corpses.

The airport in Brussels is at a state of high security. There is a lot of disruption to flights around the region. Of course there are no flights to the U.S., to Canada or indeed to Israel today, but the security measures will continue until further notice. We understand that no flights will be going to the U.S. until approximately midday Washington time, but of course that has to be confirmed.

Back to you, Jon.

MANN: Diana Muriel, thanks very much.

VASSILEVA: And it has been an unbelievable and tragic 21 hours here in the United States today. Here are now some of the most enduring images that were caught on camera.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: This just in, you are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plane was coming in, I noticed it a second before it hit the building. It looked like it was moving slowly and it lined itself up to hit the building directly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doorman goes to me, wow, I never seen a plane flying so low. And we looked out at it and all of a sudden boom. It seemed like it wasn't even real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say the hole takes about -- we saw six or seven floors were taken out. And there's more -- an explosion right now. Hold on, people are running. Hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said hold on just a moment, we've got an explosion inside the (ph)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The building's exploding right now. You've got people running up the street.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just went baboom. It was like a bomb went off and it was like -- it was like holy hell coming down them stairs. And then when we go -- we got -- finally got to the bottom and they were coming out on the mezzanine level there and another explosion came right and (ph) (INAUDIBLE) everyone flying. Right in front of me everything just went whoom (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a huge crowd I'd say of hundreds of people on the streets that come from south to north. I mean really thousands of people that have been running from inside these buildings. You know it's a very heavily trafficked area in downtown and the World Trade Center. Many of them were inside the building when they felt the explosion and they say there was just pandemonium. There was no warning, no alarms, no anything, everyone just raced from their desks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's people jumping out of windows. I've seen at least 14 people jumping out of windows. It's horrific, I can't believe this is happening.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICEMAN: Come on, let's move. Move it. Move it, come on. Let's go, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They started slowly evacuating the White House about 30 minutes ago, and then in the last 5 minutes, people have come running out of the White House and the old executive office building. 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. I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. Terrorism against our nation will not stand.

And now if you join me in a moment of silence. May God bless the victims, their families and America.

Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, arriving at the Pentagon a short time ago, there was a huge plume of smoke which continues to rise from the west side of the Pentagon. The plume of smoke is enormous. It's a couple of hundred yards across at its base. It is billowing into the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of confusion here at the Pentagon. It appears that something hit the Pentagon on the outside of the fifth corridor on the Army corridor. Several Army officers I've talked to reported hearing a big explosion, seeing shards of metal coming past their window. The Pentagon has been evacuated. Emergency services personnel were rushing to reports of several people trapped in the building. Most of the building's 24,000 people are outside of the building or in the center courtyard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House is reporting that the Capitol Building has been evacuated and the Treasury Department has been evacuated. Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, is exceptionally tense and clearly taking steps as if it is virtually under siege here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has just been a huge explosion. We can see billowing smoke rising and I can't -- I'll tell you that I can't see that second tower. But there was a cascade of sparks and fire and now this it looks almost like a mushroom cloud explosion. There's huge billowing smoke in the second tower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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'm going to have to go find people who need help because I don't think I'm one of them.

You OK, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Can I just get a toot off your respirator?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get a toot? I'm just going to (ph) a couple of clean breaths. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks good.


This is the car I hide behind, it saved my life. Wait, 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: Yes, Mike -- Mike. Mike, I'm over here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody need a doctor?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't have oxygen. Can you...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. That guy needs some oxygen if someone can share it with him.



They told me just to wait here. (INAUDIBLE). See if I can help, that's what I'm doing. They won't let me go any closer. And no one comes to go in to get the people out. There are small explosions still going on. So far it has seemed that people who needed oxygen from the dust. (INAUDIBLE). Going to go wash my eyes out. We just heard another explosion. They're handing out gloves and masks. The consensus is it's too unsafe to go in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, if you use anything, why don't we just set this up as a little mobile hospital unit right here, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a report now that a large plane crashed this morning north of the Somerset Country airport which is in Western Pennsylvania, not too terribly far from Pittsburgh, about 80 miles or so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there are enough words in the English language or enough appropriate words to describe the range of emotions that I think Pennsylvanian shares with their neighbors in Virginia, New York and the rest of America after literally witnessing the most brutal act of terrorism in mankind, at least in recent history.




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