Skip to comments.New York Digs Out of 'devastating, Unspeakable' Carnage Following World Trade Center Blasts
Posted on 09/12/2001 12:50:44 AM PDT by kattracks
NEW YORK (AP) - Rescue workers dug for bodies in mountains of rubble as the city struggled to recover Wednesday from an airborne attack on the World Trade Center that shut down the nation's financial capital and created a new skyline etched in terror.
"It is unimaginable, devastating, unspeakable carnage," said Scott O'Grady, a firefighter. "To say it looks like a war zone and to tell you about bodies lying in the street and blood and steel beams blocking roads would not begin to describe what it's like. It's horrible."
New York was the hardest hit target in a coordinated assault on American government and finance. President Bush estimated the dead in the thousands.
Just as the work day began, a hijacked jet tore through one of the 110-story towers. Another followed, striking the other tower in a fireball 18 minutes later.
A third jet struck the Pentagon at 9:40 a.m. A fourth hijacked airliner plummeted to earth about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
The twin towers collapsed by 10:30 a.m. in horrifying clouds of gray smoke.
The final death toll may not be known for weeks. The four planes had 266 people aboard. Authorities said between 100 and 800 people were believed dead at the Pentagon.
U.S. officials quickly began focusing on fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden as the architect of the devastation, which experts said was carried out with military precision.
The planes were each on cross-continental routes, and thus carrying a heavy load of flammable fuel. They struck the buildings high up and on the corners, stymieing firefighters' ability to contain the ensuing blaze and blocking escape for some tenants.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said hospitals had treated 1,100 injured by Tuesday night. But apparently most of the victims remained buried, and ground zero was inaccessible for hours after the disaster due to the fire, smoke, wreckage and searing heat.
Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen estimated that more than 300 firefighters were missing. "Many of them are gone," he said.
Three top fire department officials were among those who died. One of them, Ray Downey, chief of special operations command, led a team of New York firefighters to Oklahoma City in 1995 after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Dozens of police officers were also feared missing.
The mayor said police had received cell phone calls from people trapped in the debris.
"There are people that are still alive," he said. "We'll be trying to recover as many people as possible and trying to clean up the horrible mess made by this."
Cranes 120 feet tall and bulldozers were brought in to clear the streets. Rescue workers were armed with pickaxes and shovels.
"I must have come across body parts by the thousands," said Angelo Otchy, a mortgage broker who came in with a National Guard unit from Dover, N.J., to help dig through the debris.
City paramedic Louis Garcia said: "There's two feet of soot everywhere, and a lot of the vehicles are running over bodies because they are all over the place. There were people running up to us who were totally burned - no hair, no eyebrows."
Parag Papki went to five hospitals looking for his brother, Ganesh Ladkat, who worked on the 104th floor of the trade center. He was sent to a center set up to account for the missing.
"They asked me what was he wearing, any body marks, stuff like that," Papki said after filling out a form. "Since afternoon, I am searching."
Normally 50,000 people work in the twin towers, but the first attack came when many workers were not yet in their offices. Officials estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 people were in the buildings when the first plane crashed. Many fled, rushing down dozens of flights of stairs before the second jet hit and the towers collapsed.
The 1,250-foot-tall towers, which survived a terrorist bombing in a basement parking garage in 1993, were reduced to a pile of stone and steel about five stories high.
Much of lower Manhattan, a center of world finance that includes Wall Street and the stock exchanges, was cordoned off. And every aspect of daily life in the city was disrupted, from phone service to subways.
An election primary that had been scheduled for Tuesday, to determine the Democratic and Republican candidates for mayor, was indefinitely postponed.
The Empire State Building - along with schools and many offices - was closed Wednesday as a city filled with world-famous landmarks came to grips with its vulnerability.
Thousands of dazed New Yorkers walked out of Manhattan on Tuesday across the Brooklyn Bridge. They couldn't help looking back at the two huge pillars of smoke, filling the gap where the trade center once stood between the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
Many of the evacuees were covered in gray ash. Strangers patted each other on the back as they passed on city streets. Some were numb with shock - others cried hysterically.
Eyewitnesses recalled seeing people jump from windows of the tower high in the sky - including a man and a woman who held hands as they plunged to their deaths.
A few people on the hijacked planes managed to make cell phone calls, in which they said terrorists armed with knives were taking over the jets.
Law enforcement officials trying to piece together a case linking bin Laden to the attacks were focusing some of their efforts on possible bin Laden supporters in Florida. They were aided by an intercept of communications between his supporters and harrowing cell phone calls from victims aboard the jetliners before they crashed.
In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the hardline Taliban rulers denied that bin Laden had any role. But a London-based Arab journalist said followers of bin Laden warned three weeks ago that they would carry out a "huge and unprecedented attack" on U.S. interests.
Meanwhile New York's Catholic cardinal, Edward Egan, covered his clerical robes with green surgical garb and administered last rites to a dozen people at St. Vincent's Hospital.
"For all of us," Egan said, "this has been a terrible day. I wish this day had never happened."
We will consider any country that helps them, even if it is through inaction, to be associated with these individuals. This was an act of WAR. We Americans will treat this as WAR.
The individuals whom did this directed this operation from a patch of land. Every patch of land is defined by a country. Once we identify that country, that country will experience the entire consequences of our anger. We will engage that country and the inhabitants of that country as enimies of the United States.
Because the United States is a member of NATO, all NATO allies are bound to participate with the United States against this country. If Congress determines that a state of war exists, the American people will support full operational activation of the nuclear weapons at our disposal.
The Premier of Russia has conviened with the President and has agreed to support the United States actions without question.
Is this shocking? haven't you heard this? Perhaps it is because you (any one not understanding the rage we Americans feel) do not understand the real consequences of this action. I don't know one American, not one, (and I live in Boston - Liberal Mecca of the Nation) who does not support Nuclear confliguration.
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