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America Under Attack: America Shocked by Massive Terrorist Attacks

Aired September 12, 2001 - 08:03   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to check in with Gary Tuchman right now, who is closer than just about anyone to ground zero.

Gary, we join you very close to 23 plus hours since the first attack here on New York City.

What can you tell us about these rescues?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Paula, that brings up the point, 23 hours you're talking about. This was the hour in which this happened yesterday.

Yesterday at this time, everything was completely normal where I'm standing right next to where the World Trade Center complex used to stand. People were going to work. People were walking into the World Trade Center complex, many of them for the very last time ever.

What we're being told right now by authorities -- they're updating the information to us -- that six firefighters and one police officer have been rescued in the early morning hours. We are told the one police officer was seriously burned, but seven different emergency officials have been rescued this morning.

(AUDIO GAP)

TUCHMAN: ... two police officers were rescued. So a total of nine people, according to medics and emergency officials that we talked to, have been rescued right now, and there is hope that at least two more are in the process of being rescued as we speak.

But right now, I stand here on Church Street just north of where the two 110-story buildings used to stand. And emergency officials are going in and out. We just saw about two minutes ago two incinerated cars brought out on the back of a flatbed truck. You couldn't even recognize that they were cars. They were completely melted.

On the streets are a couple of inches thick of dust and grime and dirt that have flown (ph) from the buildings over the last 24 hours since this terrible accident happened.

And one thing you have to keep in mind about this, these -- you keep hearing these were huge office buildings. These were like cities; 50,000 people work inside these buildings, two 110-story buildings. That's 220 stories of building in this complex. It was a huge megaplex.

The bottom level itself of the World Trade Center complex had a subway station; also had a train station called the PATH Station -- that stands for Port Authority Trans-Hudson -- that took New Jersey commuters to New York City every day. And then a shopping mall with dozens of stores and restaurants. On the bottom level alone, there are thousands of people, and we're talking about 220 stories. So it really shows you the terrible horror of all of this -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Gary, before you go -- yes -- Gary, before you go any further, I think I need to clarify that the statistics at the bottom of our screen right now actually can't keep up with the information you are reporting. Once again, you are confirming that, in fact, six -- seven survivors have been found -- right -- six firefighters, one police officer?

TUCHMAN: One thing I want to stress, Paula, oftentimes we are not comfortable with stats (ph) unless we see them with our own eyes. We have a lot of very nervous, very anxious, very sad, very traumatized emergency officials coming out and giving us this information. They tell us they are sure that there are six firefighters and one police officer rescued early this morning.

We haven't seen it with our own eyes. We are taking their words for it, and that literally is all we can do, because we are not allowed right (ph) next to the scene right now. But that is what emergency officials are telling us: six firefighters, one police officer rescued this morning; two police officers rescued last night for a total of nine.

ZAHN: All right. I think I need to mention that, because I think these numbers are going to conflict throughout the day. You are closer to the pool of information than anyone, and we're going to rely on your numbers.

Gary, one thing that I wanted to add at this point is the American Red Cross now has opened 12 shelters in New York City, each are staffed with mental health professionals and nurses. And one of the points you were make earlier -- making earlier on is that the news that New York City has lost over 250 firefighters -- they were among the 400 that were first sent in, and maybe as many as 85 police officers -- is hitting rescue workers darn hard.

Are there any mental health professionals anywhere in that area to give support to these rescuers who have the tough job of going into this area of devastation?

TUCHMAN: Well, a good question. I think -- what we have been told by emergency officials that there are mental health professionals who are on the site, who are available for discussions when people need (AUDIO GAP).

ZAHN: OK, Gary, I think you're breaking up. Let me see if you're still with us. Gary, are you still there?

OK, we've lost Gary. We will come back to him a little later on this morning.

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