The day after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, rescue workers are sifting through the rubble of what was the World Trade Center in a desperate attempt to reach those who may have survived.
As dawn broke over the city that never sleeps, the ruins of the collapsed twin towers of the World Trade Center continued to smolder and a major gap appeared in one of the world's most famous skylines.
Rescue teams are working feverishly to comb through the wreckage of the collapsed World Trade Center amid reports that some survivors deep in the rubble were in touch by cell phone.
New York Governor George Pataki spent much of the night observing the rescue and recovery effort in lower Manhattan. "You see incredible courage downtown," he said. "I was down there late last night and early this morning and you can see and sense in the eyes of the firefighters their tremendous sense of loss because so many of their colleagues are trapped or have died. But you can also sense their courage under very difficult circumstances they are going through the search and rescue in the hopes that we can still save some lives."
Scores of firefighters and police officers are unaccounted for and may have died when the twin towers collapsed shortly after being struck by hijacked airliners Tuesday morning.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says city officials are bracing for a staggering casualty toll. "Worst fears are that the numbers are going to be in the thousands," he said. "In addition to the police officers and firefighters, at the time that this attack took place the building has typically thousands and thousands of people in it. The only thing that we don't know is how many people in that one hour window, approximately, that they had to leave the building, how many of them were able to get out. We know that thousands did. We also know that there were a lot that were left behind and I don't think that we are going to know that number until the relief and rescue efforts take place over the next two, three, four days."
City schools and government offices closed Wednesday. Much of the city was eerily quiet, as most tunnel and bridge crossings into Manhattan remained closed. Hospitals that were busy Tuesday are bracing for an even busier day and fresh appeals have been issued for blood donations.
New York Mayor Giuliani says city residents are pulling together in the aftermath of Tuesday's attack. "The thing that we have to do is demonstrate that the spirit of New York City is not just buildings," said Mayor Giuliani."The buildings are important to us but the spirit of New York is about the spirit of its people, that we are a free people, that we are dedicated to democracy and that we are not going to allow these cowards to stop New York from being the greatest city in the world, because it is and it is going to continue to be."
Rescue workers were encouraged Wednesday morning when they were able to pull a handful of people alive from the rubble, raising hopes of finding more survivors. But many expect that the grim task of retrieving the dead will go on for days.