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Californians Also Under Shock Following Attacks - 2001-09-12

Many Los Angeles offices were closed Tuesday in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. East Coast. Most will reopen Wednesday. Residents hope to return to normal after a day of shock that struck home for some Californians.

Some of the victims of the terrorist acts lived in California. Three of the downed aircraft were bound for Los Angeles and one for San Francisco. More than 250 people were on board those airplanes.

At the Los Angeles airport, friends and relatives waited in vain for the victims, who would never arrive. A Salvation Army chaplain, Kenneth Hodder, comforted the grieving family members. "The attitude that I have encountered so far is that of stunned shock, disbelief," he said. "This can't have happened. It can't be real, and we're still all adjusting to the reality of what has taken place.

California was spared any terrorist attacks, but shock and uncertainty were felt throughout the most populous U.S. state. In the state capital of Sacramento, Governor Gray Davis offered the people of California reassurance. "I want to urge all Californians to be calm, and if they can, to spend this day with their family," he said. "And above all else, to say a prayer for the many victims of this dastardly act."

U.S. officials say it is too early to assess responsibility for the attacks, but speculation in the news media has turned to Islamic militants. The Islamic Center of Southern California condemned the terrorist actions and scheduled an interfaith prayer meeting for Tuesday evening. But the center closed its religious school after receiving threats by email and telephone.

Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo urged local residents not to turn against each other in the wake of the tragedy. "We must hunt down and punish the murderers responsible for this tragedy," he said. "However, as residents of the most diverse city in the world, we must also be careful not to allow these terrorists to turn us against each other and target or blame certain ethnic groups."

There were prayer vigils throughout the West, at churches, temples, mosques and synagogues.

Los Angeles city hall offices were closed Tuesday but will reopen Wednesday, as will the area's amusement parks, such as Disneyland. Many events, however, including concerts and sports matches, have been postponed.