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Pentagon Attacks By Terrorism, Casualties May Be Up To 800

Aired September 12, 2001 - 05:20   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.
VINCE CELLINI, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Pentagon is the nation's military nerve and an important symbol of U.S. strength. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, it was a target. Officials now say as many as 800 employees died in the attack on the Pentagon. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is here with the latest - Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning, when business hours occur, there is going to be an attempt at a small victory. That is to say that the defense secretary has ordered that those parts of the building that can be opened for business will be open for business. That is a small victory over the big loss of yesterday when a plane crashed into it. You can see it in the back of me. We're going to find out or start to find out as the day unfolds just how significant or big that loss is.

Once daybreak occurs, officials are going to check to see if the fire has receded enough that they can go into the building, start combing through the rubble and finding out in human terms just how many casualties there were. That, of course, is going to be an extended process. The Pentagon has just steadfastly refused to give away any information about the number of people who they expect might have been killed, they're talking about figures that might go into the hundreds, although the Pentagon says that some estimates have gone as high as 800, maybe far too high, but they're going to find the grim task of doing that. They're going to start that this morning.

Business is still going on at the Pentagon. There is still military planning going on. There are some efforts, in fact, to make sure that the United States remains protected on both coasts with flotillas of military ships, including aircraft carriers, have been sent to sea on both the East and West Coast and along the coast of Hawaii to protect against any contingency. Nothing is expected in particular, but of course, this tragic day was not expected yesterday - Vince.

CELLINI: Bob, before we let you go, President Bush talked about how important it was to have business go on as usual. You touched on this. And how important is it to show some semblance of order, things taking place as they should at the Pentagon?

FRANKEN: Well, it's going to be difficult to do that. It's quite interesting, only about half of this building is considered safe enough to conduct business. Although, of course, it was not half that was really wiped out by the airplane that crashed into it. You can in back of me there were three of the corridors that were hit.

There is actually 17 miles of corridors in the Pentagon. And about half of that is going to be considered structurally unsafe, at least not proven to be safe. But that other half is going to be open for business.

That is the half that would include so many of the vital functions here, the military command center, the offices of the top- ranking people, the secretaries and deputy secretaries. Business will be going on there. And of course, it's business in time of crisis.

CELLINI: Thank you very much, CNN national correspondent, Bob Franken.

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