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America Under Attack: New York Skyline Radically Changed Forever

Aired September 12, 2001 - 06:30   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: There a live picture now as the sun gets ready to break over the skies of New York. The skyline itself radically changed from yesterday. A gapping hole in that skyline as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center no longer standing.

VINCE CELLINI, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the morning after this horrible tragedy, perhaps thousands dead, and you see the sky over Manhattan starting to lighten up now as sunrise is almost upon us in New York City.

LIN: And even as we speak, hundreds of firefighters and police officers and rescue workers are digging through the rubble of what is left of the World Trade Center trying to find survivors. We may not know for days or even weeks how many people died in that tragedy, but an estimated 50,000 people work at the World Trade Center. Some 150,000 visit there every single day. People unaccounted for, including 300 firefighters who were part of the initial rescue operation.

CELLINI: And good morning from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Vince Cellini.

LIN: And I'm Carol Lin. I'm glad you're joining us here. We have the very latest now on this terrorist attack on America. It's hard to believe that just about 21 hours ago a hijacked American Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The plane was hijacked shortly after taking off from Boston. And then minutes later, while Americans watched on televisions across the nation, a second hijacked airliner hit the Trade Center's other tower.

CELLINI: And not too long after these planes hit the World Trade Center, another hijacked airliner slamming into the Pentagon. This morning, emergency personnel hoping to begin searching the debris.

LIN: And then, Vince, in rural Pennsylvania, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, this scene, yet another hijacked plane crashes. In all, 266 passengers and crew died in these plane hijackings, and authorities say the planes were taken over by small groups of men. In at least two cases, they used knives to commandeer the aircraft. A final account of the day of terror remains unwritten, the total number of those killed is not yet known. And now live pictures of the streets of Manhattan, there just a glimpse of the devastation illuminated by some of the lights set up for the rescue operation. You saw in the lower right hand corner there a helicopter scanning the scene, and you can't see though, but hundreds of rescue workers there digging through trying to -- try to save lives if anyone has even survived.

CELLINI: Working -- yes, working tirelessly through the night. You can see now what awaits Manhattan this morning the day after the horror.

Garrick Utley has been with us in New York and here again to talk about that as it is almost sunrise there in New York City -- Garrick.

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The light certainly there, Vince, on the horizon just beyond New York Harbor there the bay in lower Manhattan where the tragedy occurred and this new day, this Wednesday in September, what kind of day is it going to be? Well, if you look at the weather forecast in the upper right hand corner, it's going to be another beautiful day as far as the weather is concerned just like yesterday, sunny, a few clouds in the sky, high of 77 degrees, but that's only the weather corner.

There is the front page once again. Let's go through the papers and just show you what has happened here.

"The New York Times," U.S. Attacked. We can't put it any more boldly than that. A column headline right across the entire paper. The New York "Daily News," the leading tabloid in circulation in this city, It's War, as direct as it can be. Same with the "New York Post," an Act of War -- sorry, get the hand out of there, but the picture is still of the plane going into the tower. And "The Wall Street Journal," of course this tragedy occurred right in the heart of the financial district of New York, the financial center of the world economy, if you will, just Terrorists Destroy World Trade Center, Hit Pentagon in Raid with Hijacked Jets.

Everybody wondering what the implications are going to be of this, of course, politically, perhaps militarily one day, and yet the immediate concern, as we saw just a moment ago, is the continuing rescue effort down there in lower Manhattan.

All night long, as this is indeed a 24 operation, the rescue efforts have been going on -- members of the fire department disaster relief teams from the Red Cross and other organizations. The Salvation Army's been providing food down there -- 10,000 meals being prepared for the rescue effort overnight and during the day that's coming. In addition to that, shelters have been set up around these rescue efforts for the hundreds in -- a few thousand people who live in the area who have lost all electric power in their homes and had to be taken into the shelters. Indeed some of their homes are in jeopardy due to structural damage from the terrorist attacks.

Throughout the day there will be -- the rescue teams here will be reinforced by more help, but 3,000 members of the New York State National Guard are -- will be moving into the city to take up positions to serve in any way that they possibly can to support and back up the fire department, the police and the disaster teams there.

And again, just look at it, can you guess how long this is going to take to go through all of that? More than one hundred stories twice over in the two towers crumpled down there. We know about the human loss of life. We don't know how many, we can only guess. The mayor says it'll be horrendous, in the thousands most likely. And the material damage, what's been lost there, not just buildings, but all the information and knowledge, the computers crushed and their memos, agendas, personal letters, correspondence, mementos, knickknacks, it's all buried there in one heap in lower Manhattan right now.

CELLINI: Garrick, earlier today you mentioned some of the names of the firefighters lost. Over 300 of the New York firefighters missing or feared dead here and only now and throughout the night periodically we were reporting faces and names to this horrible situation and really that's kind of when it begins to sink in as well, yes?

UTLEY: It's going to sink in with the names. In a way it's been amazing we haven't had more names yet coming out from these various disasters that have occurred. They will be coming out this day and that's when we will begin to put the names and the faces together.

How many people are there here as there are in Washington or in Virginia worrying about friends or loved ones in those targets that were hit? I know my wife -- friends were calling friends today to find out if they were safe. I got a call back from one of my wife's friends who just said please tell her that, she called and she left a message on the machine, I'm all right. In fact, she said, I was fortunate, I was sick this morning, I didn't go to work in the World Trade Center. I'm at home, I've just been too shaken to call her back earlier. I think these are the kinds of calls and messages hopefully that will be repeated many times as people are reassured that their friends -- yes, indeed.

CELLINI: In New York City, as we mentioned, is it really a city with backbone. You know people get back to it, take on challenges, certainly none like we see here, but a city that I'm sure will brace itself, bow its neck and just push forward.

UTLEY: It will push forward. And listen, Mayor Giuliani, the mayor of New York City, is a big booster and a cheerleader for New York. He talks about this being the capital of the world, and it is a unique metropolis. He talks about the can-do tough spirit of New Yorkers. But let's face facts, the heroism here, the bravery here, which is an unlimited measure, is it any greater than that shown among those people in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania or those in the Pentagon offices? We're talking not about New York City here, we're talking about the human spirit and we're seeing that right here in these pictures downtown. We saw what happened yesterday and what will continue to happen in these early morning hours of this Wednesday, people pulling together and there they are.

CELLINI: Garrick, of course you've been at this as a journalist for a long, long time, and I wonder even still as you see some of the new video coming down, you see some of this and the wreckage just how it hits home with you and if you could possibly filter that through yourself for us and some of the views?

UTLEY: Yes, one thing does strike me. We talk about it's war, and the people there in lower Manhattan or the Pentagon saying it's like a war scene. Veterans saying I haven't seen anything like this since World War II or Korea. True, in terms of the tragedy. It's not that kind of a war. This is not World War II. Things were happening in Europe and on Iwo Jima which were in many ways far worse than this in terms of loss of life and destruction. We grope to make these comparisons.

And what happened today was really so unique. It was terrorism, which usually is seen as something I mean (ph) very brutal, yes, but very raw unsophisticated crude, if you will. And I think one of the things that shocks we Americans and those around the world watching this is that this was brutal, this was grotesque and yet it wasn't crude. It was highly sophisticated. It was -- it took a great deal of planning. This is something new and this is what shakes us.

CELLINI: Yes, it was calculated and diabolical.

And Garrick Utley, we appreciate your presence there and your information this morning, thank you -- Carol.

LIN: Vince, we take you now live to Washington, D.C. where it's hard to believe but that is the Pentagon still on fire more than 21 hours after an airplane plowed through to its inner ring.

CNN's Bob Franken is on the scene.

Bob, what can you tell us about what's happening?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not really a huge surprise to the officials who have been watching this. They're in meetings right now trying to decide when they can go into the building and start assessing the loss, particularly in human terms, but they've been waiting for the fire to go out, and as you can see, it has not. There have been embers -- smoldering embers by just, you know, how many tons inside this building and every once in a while one of them erupts like you've been seeing right now and you're seeing it. You can see it on the left side of your screen. It has flamed up again. It's quite a little distance away from where the plane actually crashed into the Pentagon yesterday.

But before they can really go in there, they're going to have to be assured that there is no danger of fire erupting again. And of course they're going to have to take a real good look with the light of day to see when they can start going through the rubble, when they can begin the grim task of finding out just how many casualties there are inside. There have been estimates into the several hundreds, but Pentagon officials have adamantly refused to give any result. They just don't know at this particular point. Right now it's still in the hands, as you can see, of the firefighters who are trying to put things out.

It was about 9:40, I believe, yesterday morning when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. A plane that was flying from Dulles was on its way elsewhere but then was diverted and came into that. We've been told that one passenger on the plane, someone I knew well and so many viewers of CNN knew well, Barbara Olson, was able to get hold of her husband, Ted Olson, the Solicitor General, and tell him that the terrorists had thrown the pilot out of the cockpit and had taken over the plane. And that it ultimately crashed into the Pentagon as it had crashed -- planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York that we have seen so much of in the fine reporting by Garrick Utley.

But here we have a situation which still is not really ready, it looks, for the officials to go in and start assessing the damage. We are told that, nevertheless, the Defense Secretary intends to open this building up this morning for business as much as he can. Of course a bit of symbolism there, they want to show the rest of the world that the military established in the United States can continue to operate. But the reality is that it's only going to be about half open. They've decided that about half of this building, 17 miles of corridors in the entire building, about half of them cannot be declared safe enough structurally for people to go in and work, but about half of it is going to be open. Sure we're going to have briefings during the day. You can be sure that there will be planning going on in this building for a retaliation once officials can decide where the retaliation is aimed (ph).

CELLINI: All right, thank you very much, Bob Franken.

LIN: All right, thanks, Bob Franken.

CELLINI: And now we want to bring you some live video here of Manhattan and where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood. And you can see that dawn is breaking in New York City and those New Yorkers, tough as they are, will come face to face with the devastation that was Tuesday. For some we saw it on videotape here and around the world, but for the New Yorkers, it is all too real.

LIN: And, Vince, take a look at this shot, this really gives you perspective and some context of the damage. In this next shot, I hope we can bring it up, it is -- there it is -- a wide shot of the damage and devastation. We are talking about two twin towers more than a hundred stories high, you know potentially as many as 100,000 people could have been caught in that wreckage. You can still see the fire burning in the distance in the -- you know close to the upper left hand corner there. This is -- this is being called the most devastating terrorist assault on U.S. soil in American history.

CELLINI: And people there hoping, as we are, hoping against hope that somehow, someway miraculously there is still some people that may have survived this.

LIN: That's right, hundreds of people still unaccounted for, including some 300 firefighters who were there in the initial rescue operation when the first plane crashed into the north tower. There you can see...

CELLINI: And this is -- this amazingly,...

LIN: Yes. CELLINI: ... you know the city skyline and how it's...

LIN: The smoke is still rising.

CELLINI: ... -- how it's been altered and it just really hits home. It's incredible.

LIN: So evident of a true symbol of financial power gone now from the horizon of New York City, and we wish those rescue workers well today. They've got a big job ahead of them and a very delicate operation should there be survivors amidst tons of rubble.

CELLINI: Just working -- working tirelessly throughout late evening and the night.

Now we want to go to Michael Okwu at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, and he has an update for us there.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been eerily quiet here in lower Manhattan just in front of St. Vincent's Hospital which, as you know by now, has become the major trauma and triage center here in New York. Just to my right you can see that there are satellite trucks and police officers and personnel of all kinds on 14th Street just north of here, a couple blocks north. Police have set up barricades, which you cannot see necessarily from this shot, but they have set up barricades which essentially has limited traffic just south of 14th Street here in lower Manhattan to a trickle of police vehicles, emergency and medical vehicles which sometimes punctuate the silent night air here, the silence here that has resonated throughout the evening.

Moments ago, about an hour or so ago, we have seen now four victims who have been brought to this hospital. The last person we saw seemed to be a police officer, but it is not confirmed, and we do not know whether any of these victims sustained any injury that came as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center yesterday.

I'm joined here with -- by Tom Cullia (ph) who is with the University of Miami Medical Center, and Tom has been working as a volunteer to tell us about some of the outpouring of emotional support that you've seen.

TOM CULLIA, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI MEDICAL CENTER: Well, the community in New York has been unbelievable as always. The -- not only the national chains of food like Duane Reade and Starbucks and that kind of thing but the local residents, people coming in and helping out any way they can not only in products and foods but also in time. All night long we've had every shift covered. We're getting food to the officers and to the nurses, to the doctors. We've set up nine coffee stations throughout the hospital just so they don't leave the area and stay with the patients, which is where they really need to be.

OKWU: Can you see whether it's actually making a difference?

CULLIA: It's making a difference. And it's -- you know our own (ph) thought is if we just get two hands free inside by doing what we're going then we're doing what we're supposed to be doing and that's what we're trying to do.

OKWU: Tom, thank you very much.

CULLIA: Thank you.

OKWU: Thank you.

The hospital officials here say that they will have a press briefing at 6:30, just a little while from now, and of course we will keep you posted on that.

I'm Michael Okwu reporting live from lower Manhattan.

LIN: Thank you, Michael.

We want to go back to Garrick Utley who's at the New York bureau with a view of the skyline.

Garrick, we've been hearing stories about things being reported on New York radio, something about people calling for help on their cell phones from the World Trade Center?

UTLEY: We've had those reports through the evening, indeed from city officials that they have received some cell phone calls from those trapped in the rubble. Now we're not quite clear whether it's in the rubble of the Twin Towers that came down or buildings around it where people are trapped because of debris and also because a third building, the No. 7 of the World Trade Center, also collapsed yesterday late afternoon. So we're not sure where those calls are coming from, but yes, some messages have gotten through. And to the extent that the rescue effort can pinpoint where they are, they're certainly going to be going after them today.

LIN: Garrick, do you know whether they're saying how seriously they're hurt or how much danger they still feel they're in?

UTLEY: No, we've not heard anything since the news conference last night held by the mayor -- Mayor Giuliani and other city officials. They mentioned these -- some of these cell phone calls. They're being very tight lipped. Officials everywhere do not want to give out any information that could raise hopes too much or dash them too much. They're just waiting for events to unfold.

LIN: Sure.

UTLEY: I'm sure, though, that during the course of this day we'll be getting more information about that.

LIN: Sure. Garrick, do they think that these are credible calls?

UTLEY: Well, how do we know for certain. Certainly a prankster could do it. That would be the worst, the bleakest, the darkest, dirtiest joke, if you will, if anybody tried to pull that stunt. But they believe they are credible, that's what they say they're acting on that information. How many they are, we simply don't know. We do know, of course, earlier yesterday, even before those towers collapsed in rubble here, many people employed and working in their offices in the Twin Towers were calling friends and families describing what was happened. And we were also told that by one of our colleagues at CNN that he had learned that one man called his wife and he knew that he was trapped right at the top and he wasn't going to get out.

CELLINI: Well, we will continue to hear these stories.

Garrick, right behind you in your shot we can see that it is just about daybreak there.

UTLEY: The sun is coming up to the east and we want to take a look at one of the -- at downtown here as you see the lower part of Manhattan and that gaping, what can we call it, void -- a hole where the Twin Towers used to be. There's still a lot of dust, some smoke, but that's a mixture of dust and smoke that's in the air there and it's probably going to continue for sometime because the rescue effort itself will keep picking up the dust.

CELLINI: Speaking of that, and we -- and we have some pictures of the rescue effort that's continuing right now, that would be a difficult area to access even for regular traffic, would it not, let alone trying to do some of this massive recovery that's taking place now with the heavy machinery?

UTLEY: When we look -- you're absolutely right. When we look at downtown or lower Manhattan, you see these modernly sleek skyscrapers. It's Wall Street, the financial district, but actually anybody who's visited realize this is original New York City. This is where the first settlers landed. This is where George Washington was inaugurated as our first president just a couple of blocks from those Twin Towers some 200 years ago. This is a part of town with not a grid system of streets but tiny little streets and lanes along which they've built these giant buildings filled with hundreds and thousands of workers. So in the best of circumstances, it's a perpetual traffic jam down there.

Now of course even with traffic and pedestrians cleared away and the people having fled, you've got to move in this giant equipment. And look at the cars that are down there, look at the debris you've got. How do you maneuver in this space?



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