Officials Begin to Assess the Damage as Smoke Clears, Casualties Mount

September 13, 2001

Now that the initial damage has been done, city officials have begun the grim task of removing bodies from both towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. While there have been a few stories of survivors being pulled from the wreckage in New York City, by Wednesday afternoon, the efforts of officials appear to be moving more toward recovery than rescue.

According to a Pentagon spokesman, no one could have survived the impact when American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington to Los Angeles plowed into the building Tuesday morning shortly after 9 a.m.

While the Navy and Army continued to account for all their personnel who were in the building at the time, all Air Force personnel were accounted for. Meantime, the number of Marines, civilian employees from the Defense Department, and civilian contractors working in destroyed areas of the building remains unclear. U.S. officials meantime were still holding out hope that some survivors may be found once a wrecking ball is used to move the rubble.

As the search for survivors and bodies goes on, in the area of impact along the building’s perimeter, where a portion of the building collapsed, FBI evidence teams discovered parts of the fuselage from the Boeing 757, but no large pieces were left from the crash. The search continued for the plane’s flight-data and cockpit voice recorders.

In New York City, officials continued the task of trying to get into the main demolition area where possibly thousands of people are buried.

As of early Wednesday, there were reports of 1,700 injuries and more than 40 deaths resulting from the attack on the Twin Towers, which began construction in 1966 and were completed in 1970. The 110-story buildings tumbled less than an hour apart after being hit by an American flight and a United flight, both of which departed from Boston’s Logan Airport. More than 200 firefighters and 50 police officers were reported missing in the debris. Surrounding states and Puerto Rico were supplying search and rescue teams to aid in the search.

While the physical damage is overwhelming, officials are now putting a human touch on the tragedy by releasing some of the names of the dead on the ground and in the planes. Among the dead on the American Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles were Edmund Glazer, 41, of Chatsworth, Calif., CFO and vice president of administration of MRV Communications, a manufacturer of optical network components; and Daniel Lewin, 31, co-founder of Akamai Technologies in Massachusetts. Killed on the United Flight 93 which went down south of Pittsburgh was Thomas Burnett Jr., 37, of San Ramon, Calif., who was senior vice president and chief officer of Thoratec Corp., a medical research and development company. Moments before the San Francisco-bound plane went down, Burnett was reported to have called his wife on a cell phone, telling her he feared the flight was doomed but he and two other passengers planned to do something about it, the family’s priest told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Authorities have not said whether an attempt by passengers to thwart the hijacking may have caused the plane to crash in the Pennsylvania countryside instead of hitting a high-profile target elsewhere, possibly Camp David in the Maryland mountains or a target in Washington, D.C.

Those that died on the United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles included a number of officials from a German company, BCT Technlogy AG.

Killed on the ground when the World Trade Center collapsed were a number of high-ranking New York City fire officials, including Peter Ganci, the Fire Department Chief.

While the recovery efforts continue, investigators are feverishly at work Wednesday hunting down a variety of leads in several states, including Massachusetts, Maine, and Florida. Not only is field work being done, but authorities are checking cyberspace messages to search for clues.

Both America Online and Earthlink were given “surveillance orders” by the FBI which is trying to spot Internet talk of the attacks which may be linked to the terrorists.

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