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Rescue Operations Under Way in New York - 2001-09-12


In New York, rescue officials are working through the night to help survivors of Tuesday's devastating terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. City officials expect the death and injury toll to rise rapidly as survivors and victims reach hospitals.

New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani told reporters people may be still alive amid the ruins and rubble that was the World Trade Center. He says every effort is being made to reach survivors as soon as possible. "Tomorrow the effort will be trying to recover as many people as possible and trying to clean up the horrible mess that was created by all of this," he said. "And I would ask people to cooperate as much as possible in that effort. If you have to come into Manhattan because your business is essential, then obviously do it. The upper part of Manhattan will be open. But if tomorrow is a day in which you want to stay home, stay with your family and give comfort and support maybe to other people that have been affected by this, it would be a good day to do that."

Giant earth moving equipment has made its way into lower Manhattan to assist in the rescue effort. National Guard troops are also arriving in the city to help along with scores of doctors and nurses who responded to appeals for medical help to deal with the injured.

The city's devastating day began just before 9 a.m. local time Tuesday when a hijacked airliner smashed into the north tower of the 110-story World Trade Center. Witnesses recounted what they saw on local television. "We saw a plane coming very low and I said, 'Wow, that plane is very, very low,'" said a woman. Adds another, "I was walking to work and all of a sudden I see a jet crash through the first tower."

Even as New Yorkers reeled from the shock of the first crash, a second airliner roared into the south tower of the World Trade Center about 18 minutes later, launching a giant fireball out of the side of the building.

And again, witnesses could not believe their eyes. "Oh, there is another one," said one witness. "Another plane just hit. Oh my God! Another plane has just hit."

A man said, "I heard a roar and looked around thinking that it had to be a helicopter and I looked up and I saw the second plane hit."

A short time later, the twin towers collapsed, sending debris over everything and everyone down below including one man who felt lucky to be alive. "It collapsed," he said. "The top floors collapsed down. I saw it blow and then ran like hell. Thank God. I'm 69 but I can still run."

New Yorkers are known for their resiliency and New York Governor George Pataki sought to reassure the country that the city will recover from the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. "We are going to get through this," he said. "New Yorkers have come together. This is one of the darkest days in American history but we are going to get beyond this and we are going to come back stronger as a city and as a state and as a country."

New York is known as the city that never sleeps. After the incredible events of Tuesday, some New Yorkers are wondering if they will ever rest easy again.