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America's New War: City Leaders in New York Prepare People for Worst

Aired September 19, 2001 - 05:02   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: at ground zero, city leaders in New York are preparing people for the absolute worst possibility. They are preparing people for what will likely be thousands and thousands of funerals.

We go to CNN's Brian Palmer, who is at the scene where the World Trade Center once stood.

Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

It's still difficult to fathom that just a little more than a week ago, these steaming piles of rubble behind me were the World Trade Center and the surrounding buildings.

It's been just under a week since the last survivor was pulled from the rubble. About 50,000 tons of concrete and steel have been carted out of -- out of this area. It sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it really isn't, given that about 1.5 million tons of steel and concrete went into building the World Trade Center towers.

Now, the search-and-rescue operations continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but hope is fading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: The chances of recovering any live human beings are very, very small now, given the amount of time and the condition of the site. Those chances are not totally, however, ended or over. So we will -- we will still conduct ourselves as a rescue effort as well as a recovery effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PALMER: Now, the more than 5,400 missing -- 218 have been confirmed dead -- 152 of those identified -- but that's less than four percent of the total number missing.

Now, the rescuers that we talked to last night and this morning politely begged to differ with the mayor. They said that their hope is not fading, and as long as they're still on -- still on that rubble pile, they're going to be looking for survivors and for the remains of survivors.

Carol.

LIN: All right, Brian. It must be a very difficult job indeed, needing and wanting to believe in what you're doing.

What specifically, though, is giving these rescuers any hope, any sign? In the early days, they were hearing voices and tapping, but what's left for them to hope for?

PALMER: I think it's a combination of things. I think it's the camaraderie of working with like-minded people, I think it's the support that they're getting from New Yorkers and everyone around them, and I think it's just -- it's faith.

LIN: Faith. All right. We are all trying to believe in the very best, certainly for the families waiting to hear about their missing loved ones.

Thank you very much.

Brian Palmer, reporting live from the World Trade Center -- from where it used to stand.

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