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America Under Attack: Rescuers Comment On Conditions

Aired September 13, 2001 - 04:14   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: Rescue workers in New York say the search effort is a painstaking process. Debris is being removed by handful and searched for anything of significant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MCGARRY, VOLUNTEER RESCUER: Everyone has the hopes of finding yet another survivor. They're digging deep. And they're digging hard. Looking, but again it's being done by hand. The IN workers that are working in there are working to remove the steel of which is on top of a lot of the bodies. Sifting through the debris, a lot of the body parts and the debris are one in the same.

It's just becoming right now at this point foul. The smell is starting to come from the dead. So the bodies are a little bit easier to identify at this point, although it's going to be a long, long process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VASSILEVA: A pall hangs over the desperate search for survivors in New York. Hundreds of the surrounding buildings are damaged, some near collapse. Five survivors were pulled from mountain of wreckage and Wednesday. And rescue workers plowed on through the night hoping others are still alive.

Garrick Utley joins us now live from New York with some thoughts. Garrick?

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Ralitsa. We want to look at how the United States, how the Americans are doing, coping with the stress, the aftermath of these terrorist attacks. It's been said of course, as we all know, that adversity is a very good test of character. And if we use that scale, there's nothing more adverse than what this country has been going through these last couple of days. And look at the response.

Yes, there was the understandable chaos around the towers, the World Trade Center when they came tumbling down, but after that there was order, there was discipline. There's been no looting reportee in the city when that could have happened. People are volunteering in long lines to donate their blood.

There was on Wednesday evening one bomb alert, a hoax, but one so far. That's perhaps to be expected.

But above all what's been impressive is the way people have pulled together to volunteer, to contribute, to give wherever and however they can.

Here is a report from CNN's Brian Palmer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A steady procession snakes south towards the smoke and wreckage of the World Trade Center. Police, fire fighters, national guard, and volunteers, hundreds of volunteers from all over the country. Clergy.

FATHER ALEXEI NIZZA, SAINT NECTARIOUS, THE BRONX: Well I'm here to give any assistance that I can for both the living and the dead.

PALMER: Doctors and nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're from Texas. We're headed to help out.

PALMER: Nursing assistant Cheryl Herring rove down from Massachusetts.

CHERYL HERRING, NURSING ASSISTANT: We've been taking care of the fire fighters as they come in with exhaustion giving them water, cleaning out their eyes, checking their vital signs.

PALMER: And estimated 1700 people have been treated at New York hospitals with 150 doctors doing triage alone. The New York Red Cross is fielding 350 disaster response volunteers and 500 mental health professionals to help New Yorkers cope.

U.S. companies are pitching in too. Cisco Systems is donating $4 million and General Electric $10 million to families of emergency workers. Iron workers join the effort, like Joe Mooney (ph) who helped build the Trade Center towers.

What's your reaction to all of this, Mr. Mooney?

JOE MOONEY: I'm sick, sick.

PALMER: They crossed paths with weary men and women headed home for a few hours sleep or simply through a clear patch of side walk. And they passed bewildered and shell shocked residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's frightening to think is this the beginning of what other people have been going through all over the world for decades and decades.

PALMER: Firefighter John McAllister (ph) headed back to the carnage after already putting in 24 hours.

JOHN MCALLISTER, FIREFIGHTER: I'm heading down there and maybe help get some guys out. BRIAN VANFLANDER, VOLUNTEER EMT: I am saddened, outraged, disappointed, overjoyed by the camaraderieship and the amazing effort, the coming together of New Yorkers.

PALMER: Bill Cook is a retired detective.

BILL COOK, RETIRED DETECTIVE: I just couldn't stand there, watch it on TV and not be apart of it. So I called my cheap and I was part of this unit three years ago and I said I've got to do something.

PALMER: But amidst the sadness some reasons to rejoice. Port authority police found one of their lost officers alive in rubble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was extremely happy. And someone had asked that earlier and I compared it to the birth of my children. It was like having a life come into my life. And when they found them it was just - we were great. We were happy.

PALMER: And signs just a few blocks north that life in New York has not be totally disrupted. But things have changed for New Yorkers. Parents ask the media to stay out of the park to avoid upsetting the children. Brian Palmer, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UTLEY: Well if the media, if the camera was kept out of that playground in New York City, you may have noticed something else. The media so far has been kept away from the immediate ground zero where the rescue efforts are under way, the attempts to recover any survivors or otherwise the victims, expected to be thousands of victims in the wake of this terrorist attack.

Now you might as or wonder why is this? Well one reason of course is that there's so many media, so many camera teams that they are allowing in there. If we were allowed in there we'd be swarming all over the place and might well interfere with the recovery efforts. That's a judgement call by city officials.

There also may be a second factor at work. The fact that perhaps hundreds or thousands of bodies will be covered, is that an image people really want to see. Is there images people should be seeing. That debate hasn't really started but we will see whether we are going to see it in the weeks and the months to come. Ralitsa, back to you.

VASSILEVA: Difficult times to comes, yet. Garrick, thank you very much.

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