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America Under Attack: Ruins Still Smolding

Aired September 13, 2001 - 04:00   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.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: We will have new details on the investigation of the terrorist attacks in New York city and Washington on just a moment, but first let's go right to the scene of the worst devastation New York where CNN's Alessio Vinci joins us live.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ralitsa, there are many things -- many incredible things that are happened herein the last two days in New York. One of them right behind me here as you can see.

Even in the middle of the night you can see the high cloud of white smoke still billowing on top of the wreckage of the two towers that were collapsed off of the passenger jet hit them. More than 40 hours later still thick white smoke billowing from there, an indication of how difficult it is. It's still down there for the hundreds of rescue workers trying to remove some of the debris and try to see if perhaps somebody is still alive underneath that rubble.

The workers -- they're working on 12-hour shifts, perhaps some of them even longer. The buildings surrounding the World Trade Center very much unstable and making that rescue operation even more dangerous. We spent several hours earlier today with some of the workers there. We could see several long lines of dumpster trucks being used to remove to take away from the area the debris. We also saw some refrigerator trucks indicating that some of the bodies were being found and taken to the morgues.

The last official count at this time 82 bodies found, only 16 of them have been identified. The number of casualties of course is set to increase once the rescue operation continues. The Mayor of New York, Rudolf Guiliani has asked the Federal Emergency Management agency to bring 6000 body bags here in New York.

Meanwhile, the lower part of New York, south of 14th street remains completely sealed off by the police. A good portion of the lower Manhattan is also without electricity. That's why many people have been evacuated especially the elderly ones. Some people also left on their own.

And I've been able to speak to some people earlier today, some people here in lower Manhattan that say even in the wake of this tragedy they wanted to remain here. One person saying looking at the sky I cannot believe that the two towers are no longer there. Back to you Alisa (ph).

VASSILEVA: Alessio also from the reports we were hearing it's also difficult to breathe.

VENICI: Absolutely Ralitsa. We spend there only 20 minutes down there, about half-an-hour perhaps and then after that we could really -- we were really having a hard time difficulties in breathing. There is smoke. There is dust. There is a lot of debris throughout the area where the two towers collapsed.

Any kind of emergency official there or the rescue workers are all using gas masks in order to be able to sustain hours and hours of very hard work. As I said some ships lasting 12 hours or more without a gas mask it would be practically impossible to remain so close to the fire, so close to the smoke and try to bring some of the bodies out of there.

VASSILEVA: Alessio, is there still hope that survivors may be found?

VENICI: Well I spoke to some rescue workers earlier. And they said yes, they do have hope. Certainly they haven't found anybody alive for the last several hours. We heard earlier, a couple of hours ago on CNN one of the volunteer rescue were saying that so he's only found body parts and nobody alive. So there is still hope.

But after more than 40 hours and given the fact that two towers 110 stories high collapsed it's really unlikely at this point any person alive could be found. But the workers continue and it is still a search and rescue operation.

VASSILEVA: Alessio, thank you.

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