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America Under Attack: New York at Break of Day

Aired September 14, 2001 - 06:04   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to CNN's Garrick Utley for more on the latest on the rescue and the investigation out of New York City.

Good morning, again, Garrick.

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, Carol, as we look ahead to this Friday in New York City and Manhattan, President Bush, as you've reported, is coming to town this afternoon. He'll be -- we assume he'll be visiting the site of the terrorist attack there in lower Manhattan and attend a prayer service here before returning to Washington.

We're looking now at lower Manhattan, and as you can see, the weather has turned fowl once again. Throughout the early morning hours there have been a series of thunderstorms, electrical storms passing through which has interrupted the rescue work. It's been stop, start, stop again. Once the weather clears up, of course, it will continue.

But as we -- as we look at what's happening in Manhattan and has happened overnight, there's some very interesting scenes. In Union Square, just above this part of lower Manhattan, there was a vigil last night and -- for New Yorkers I think we're getting used to this. It's a familiar scene and yet a very important one. A mixture of American flags and candles there, but above all, it's not just the candles and the flags, it's the people coming together, spending time. Not so much an official service as just being together and communing in this community in Union Square in the heart of Manhattan. Time to be together, time to be alone, time to think and reflect and remember.

And remembering is what Americans across the nation will be doing on this Friday. The president's called for a national day of prayer and remembrance. At the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. will be the -- held the principal service. The National Cathedral, of course, has been the site of so many famous services over the years. President Bush will be in attendance, and he's also asking Americans across the country to remember and to prayer -- and to offer their prayers.

As far as New Yorkers are concerned, they'll be getting a little bit more of their city back in Manhattan itself. That is to say that much of the lower part of Manhattan, as you can see, from 14th Street there in the upper part of the map on your screen. Below 14th Street down to the World Trade Center area, the Battery Park at the tip of the island has been closed to Traffic since Tuesday's attack. Well, as of Friday, traffic can proceed all the way down to Canal Street, which runs through Little Italy and Chinatown and lower Manhattan, an improvement. Manhattanites will be getting a good bit of their lower part of the island back, and no doubt within an hour or two there'll be traffic jams there.

As far as traffic jams are concerned, we're all waiting to see what President Bush's visit does here. Usually a presidential visit to Manhattan snarls traffic all through the city. Of course the White House is going to try to avoid as much inconvenience as possible, but New Yorkers are ready for that visit. I'm sure they're going to welcome the president, and they're also prepared for the traffic jams, which no doubt could be severe.

Anyway, back to you now, Carol and Jonathan.

LIN: So much, Garrick. And battling -- boy, battling traffic and battling the bad weather out there as are you, Garrick. I know we had to bring you inside because of this storm which has slowed down some of the rescue operation.

And I think, Jonathan, you've got more on that.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: The rescue work has been affected, also in a smaller way has our work. Alessio Vinci joins us now on the line. We haven't got a satellite connection because of that weather.

What else is going on there, Alessio?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, rain, rain, rain and more rain. I cannot imagine how all this water coming from the sky can make the work of those rescue workers there even more difficult and miserable. The chances, however, to find anybody alive underneath that rubble are growing dim. Rescue workers are telling us that they will continue and they continue to hope that perhaps underneath that rubble somebody somewhere underneath perhaps a big chunk of concrete or in an airtight void is still alive. There are still more than 4,700 people missing underneath -- believed to be underneath the rubble and certainly those rescue workers digging there they must think, some of them, at least even one of them, should be -- should be alive (ph).

There is also, of course, concern for the safety of the rescue workers themselves. Some of the buildings in nearby what was once the World Trade Center may have suffered some structural damage, and there is, of course, some concern about their stability. One of those buildings is the American Express building and rescue workers used it as a morgue and as a triage center. It was evacuated on Wednesday and on Thursday, workers were pulled back from the area nearby. We understand also the officials are keeping a close eye on it.

More than 6,000 tons of debris have so far been removed by exhausted and determined rescue workers. Those debris taken to a -- to Staten Island where they have been -- they are being examined by the FBI who is searching for some more clues which could perhaps reveal the identity of the rescue -- of the -- of the hijackers.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of this rescue operation, Jonathan, is the fact that so far mostly what has been recovered from the site are body parts. The latest figures that were released last night speaks for themselves -- speak for themselves: 184 sets of human remain and have been found, and only (AUDIO GAP) whole bodies, which 35 have so far already been identified. The numbers, of course, will change. We know that authorities here have requested more than 5,000 -- between 5,000 and 10,000 body bags and certainly that we expect the number -- the final number of this tragedy to rise, too.

Finally, just to give you a sense about how, you know, strong and the magnitude of the disaster, one of the engineers who was telling us that the site there near the -- where the World Trade Towers were standing is like a living hell -- Jonathan.

MANN: A living hell and a nightmare that doesn't end. In addition to all of the other challenges that these rescue workers are facing, it has been three days, what about fatigue? How are they carrying on?

VINCI: Jonathan, we're speaking about three days, but I mean we know that this site will be a work in progress for the weeks and perhaps months to come. We are still in the very early days -- early moments of this rescue operation to sift through that entire debris.

Imagine two 110 stories building, two planes both crashed into the same place, I mean it must be an operation of incredible size. And of course those rescue workers right now still very much determined in and with the hope that perhaps somewhere underneath that rubble there is somebody alive.

Once one or two weeks will have passed and the chances of finding somebody alive then will be really, really, really small, then perhaps the fatigue and the hardship of this -- of this operation will start to be felt a lot more.

Another reminder, underneath that rubble there are still believed to be 300 firefighters, 30 police officers, and of course these are some of their comrades, some of their colleagues of these people. And of course the fact that knowing that a friend and a colleague is underneath there is giving them another reason to search even harder and even with more determination -- Jonathan.

MANN: Alessio Vinci in New York, thanks very much.



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