Rescue efforts at the devastated World Trade Center were hampered late Wednesday as a fourth building in the complex collapsed and a nearby 54-story fifth building partially caved in. Shifting winds and nightfall are also hurting rescue efforts.
Frustrated rescue workers are desperate to find survivors who may be trapped in air pockets under the rubble. But they are beginning to turn their efforts increasingly toward collecting and indentifying the dead.
Rescue workers spent much of the day searching for body parts in the crater created where the mighty twin of the Wolrd Trade Center once stood. Medical experts say it will take a long time to identify many of the bodies. They say the bodies of many of the passengers in the two airplanes that destroyed the building may have been cremated beyond recognition.
The enormous dimensions of the tragedy struck home for many in mid-afternoon when 10 18-wheel cargo trucks appeared to carry away the dead.
As the rescue efforts continue people have come to hospitals, makeshift emergency rooms and temporary morgues all over the city looking for missing family members. Most carry pictures of their loved ones, hoping someone will have seen them. Vanessa Torres is looking for a friend who worked on the 102nd floor of Building Number Two.
"We know for a fact that she was at work because at 8:45 when she logged on, a friend of ours saw her show up. So we know she was at work online," Ms. Torres said. " When the next plane hit her building she went off line and we have not heard anything since."
Adolfo Rodriguez is searching for his father.
"He worked at World Trade Center Building Two on the 96th floor. The last time we heard him, he was calling my mama at 8:45am. He told her to turn on the television, that he was all right," Mr. Rodriguez said.
Officials refuse to estimate the number dead but say the death toll will number into the thousands.
Most of the downtown section of the city will remain closed Thursday. The Stock Market will close for a third consecutive day and will re-open Friday as the earliest. Schools, except those near the site of the World Trade Center, will open Thursday. Some commuter bus and rail lines will resume normal service into Manhattan. Tunnels will stay closed.
Damage estimates are shockingly high - perhaps in the tens of billions of dollars.