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America's New War: New York Rescue Workers Resolved to Finding Survivors

Aired September 17, 2001 - 06:42   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We'll continue using the economic parlance, if you will, this morning, as we check in with our Alessio Vinci, who is outside right now.

The supply of resolve for those who are working and dealing with the demands of what has been for many a heartbreaking job there, going through the rescue and recovery effort as seen as though the supply is meeting those demands.

Let's check in now with Alessio and see what's happening outside -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, if I could sum up the mood of the rescue workers in two words, I would say "tired and frustrated." Tired because they have been working all night, six days now, 12 hour shifts. Frustrated, because so far, the only thing they're being able to pull out of that rubble is 190 bodies and many body parts. But so far, nobody alive since Wednesday, and this is really taking a big toll on the mood of the rescue workers here who still believe that perhaps somewhere underneath that big pile of rubble somebody may still be alive.

Officials here are continuing to call the operation a search-and- rescue, because they believe that perhaps underneath the World Trade Center in the big -- in the seven levels underneath the World Trade Center, there might be a slim possibility that perhaps some people may still be alive. People who are familiar with that area there, you know, there are large -- a large train station. There are two shopping malls there. And perhaps, when the two towers collapsed, perhaps those large concrete making the roof of the train station perhaps could have protected some people who, because there was some shops there, would eventually have access to even food and water and be able to endure such a long time underneath the rubble.

However, one of the rescue workers who came out just a few hours ago with whom we asked him how deep they went, they said he personally went 27 feet beneath the ground. He said he was getting closer to the train station. They did not reach it yet. But he said, there was no sign of life -- back to you, Leon.

HARRIS: Alessio, I take it then that means they haven't even heard any sounds or anything emanating from that train station down there? VINCI: Nothing, Leon. No signs, no sounds, no signs of life, absolutely nothing that is telling rescue workers here, or rescue officials for that matter, that there is still somebody alive underneath that rubble. However, the officials here continue to believe that a little bit of hope remains.

HARRIS: Yes.

VINCI: They still want to make sure that if people, and their families believe that they are some way alive, and therefore they continue to call this operation a search-and-rescue. They do not want to give up hope that perhaps somewhere -- there are still more than 5,000 people missing, Leon.

HARRIS: Yes.

VINCI: And they would really like to believe that one person is still alive.

HARRIS: And I understand that, and I know there are so many who feel the same exact way. But I guess with just a dose of realism here, it's been how many days now since they have actually found someone who was alive and pulled them out of there? And -- but that in mind, how much longer -- are they saying how much longer they're going to hold out hope and continue calling it a rescue mission?

VINCI: Well, there is no indication how much longer they're going to call it a rescue mission. But as I mentioned before, they believe that perhaps in that underground station, where there was a lot of food, a lot of water, perhaps by luck, by chance, somebody would still be able to feed himself or herself and to remain alive.

But again, the problem is that there has been absolutely no sign whatsoever -- not a phone call. I mean, many of the people working there presumably had cell phones. There is absolutely no way and no sign that there is anybody underneath there and that is still live, Leon.

It's clearly a bad -- it's really a bad sign, but we would like to give better news, but unfortunately, underneath that rubble it's really unlikely at this point that there is somebody alive.

HARRIS: Yes. And it says much about the size of the hearts of those in New York who are working there at that site to see that they are still holding out hope -- Alessio Vinci, thank you very much. We'll talk with you later on.

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