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America's New War: Rescue Workers Continue to Look Through the Ruins of the World Trade Center

Aired September 15, 2001 - 22:38   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.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We turn back now to New York and the events going on here, the effort to salvage what can be salvaged, to rescue those who might still be alive. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman joins us now from ground zero around the Trade Center with an update on the search that is now going on around the clock, of course, and more on the president's visit as well. Gary, good evening to you.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, good evening to you, and we are now in the midst of night number four, the fourth night of the search for victims. Innocent civilians, people who worked in the World Trade Center, people who were going to shop at the World Trade Center shopping complex, people who were just going to the 110th story observatory for one of the greatest views anywhere. It's all gone now.

These were people in the wrong place at the wrong time. And now, more than 4,700 of them are missing. It's a very depressing number. But also a sad number, the number zero. And that's the number of survivors who have been found over the last two days.

Behind me, fires continue to burn in the area where the World Trade Center used to stand. The smelly smoke continues to billow. As a matter of fact, the smoke is higher than it's been for quite some time right now. Hundreds of rescue workers are out there still looking for survivors, and it's been very disappointing for them that they haven't found any.

For the most part, the news media hasn't been allowed to bring its cameras right to ground zero. So, today, we gave one of our cameras to one of the emergency workers, and he took some pictures that gave us views of the images very close up. And it's very overwhelming. So far, over 10,000 tons of rubble have been taken away from here to a local landfill. That is a total of 20 million pounds. But it almost makes no difference, that shows you how much rubble is there. I was there myself at ground zero two days ago, and it looks almost the same. So, it shows you just how much is there right now.

Many workers, they are very concerned about several buildings surrounding the World Trade Center area. There are structural deficiencies. The mayor of New York City today, Rudy Giuliani, said that buildings are not in danger of collapse, but many people are very worried nonetheless. Many of the emergency workers we have talked with said they do believe their spirits were lifted by the visit of the president of the United States today, George W. Bush. But they also know about reality. And that reality is it's very possible that down the road, we will all find out that nearly 5,000 people are buried understand this rubble where the World Trade Center used to stand. Aaron, back to you.

BROWN: Gary, before you get away, you have been down there for a last couple days, very close in. The clock is ticking. This is a very cold reality, but if there's anyone alive, they have been without water now for four days. They surely have existed in some sort of air pocket. Do you -- that may be running out. Do you note in the rescue workers, the firemen and rest who are down there, that they are losing hope?

TUCHMAN: I think it's fair to say, Aaron, that yes, they are losing hope. They really thought over the first couple days they would find many survivors, because the survivors they did find, the few in the first few days, were in pockets, pockets they call voids. They believed there's perhaps 40 or 50 feet below the wreckage where people could be, but they haven't been able to get down there.

Most of these people are convinced there are people down there, but the sad reality is they haven't found anyone alive over the last couple days. And that is not good news.

BROWN: Gary, thanks, you've been very enterprising this week. Thanks a lot for your work. We appreciate it very much.

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