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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Massive US hunt for attackers
Manhattan skyline
The Manhattan skyline has been scarred forever
Thousands of police have been deployed across the US to track down those responsible for Tuesday's unprecedented day of terror from the air.

The authorities are throwing all their resources at the case - more than 4,000 FBI special agents are involved with more than 3,000 support staff.

President Bush has committed the country to a "monumental struggle of good versus evil," while Nato, has invoked its mutual defence clause for the first time in its history, opening the way for a possible collective military response.

Two airliners were crashed into the twin towers
Two airliners were crashed into the twin towers
In New York, efforts to recover the thousands of bodies believed to be trapped in the ruins of the World Trade Center have been disrupted by a further structural collapse.

US Congress leaders are recommending that $20bn be given immediately to emergency relief efforts. A vote on the recommendation is expected later on Thursday.

The attack could have been much worse. Officials in Washington said they had "credible evidence" the White House and presidential jet Air Force One had also been targets.

Hundreds of leads

No group has admitted responsibility for the attacks, but FBI officials say they have evidence that supporters of the Saudi dissident, Osama Bin Laden, were involved.

The FBI has been following up on hundreds of leads and conducted searches in different locations across the country, with a high-profile raid on a hotel in Boston, though no arrests have been made.

It says it has identified most of the hijackers and suspected accomplices.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft said he believed some of them had trained as pilots in the US.

Death toll
All 266 on board the four planes feared dead
Between 100 and 800 believed to have died at the Pentagon. No survivors yet found
55 people known to have died in the WTC. Four people pulled alive from the rubble. Several thousand estimated to be inside the buildings
At least 259 uniformed service members are missing, feared dead
The FBI said they believed there had been between three and six hijackers on each of the four hijacked planes.

They had been armed with knives, and in some cases there were bomb threats.

Two aircraft were flown into New York's World Trade Center, toppling the two towers.

A third seriously damaged the Pentagon while the fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

'Acts of war'

After a meeting with his National Security Council, President Bush described the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon acts of war.

He said the battle would take time to resolve but the enemy would not be able to hide for ever.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said a major priority would be to build a world-wide coalition against all forms of terrorism.

The US has already received the backing of Nato. The North Atlantic organisation declared that the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington could be considered an attack on the whole alliance if it turns out they were directed from abroad

Thousands feared dead

In New York, the scale of the task facing the emergency services is immense.

Rescue workers overwhelmed with the task
Rescue workers overwhelmed with the task
Huge excavators and cranes, dwarfed by the mountains of rubble, have been picking at the debris.

Temporary mortuaries have been set up to handle the large number of bodies expected to be recovered.

The emergency services have so far had little success, rescuing few survivors.

Several hundred firemen and police officers are among those feared dead.

New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani said he feared thousands of bodies are still buried beneath the ruins of the World Trade Centre.

About 50,000 people, from all over the world, worked in the buildings.

The stock markets in New York, which have been shut since Tuesday's attacks, will remain closed again on Thursday, despite earlier expectations that they might reopen.

The chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, said the markets would reopen no earlier than Friday and no later than Monday.

The Federal Aviation Authority had hoped to have lifted the grounding of all flights by now.

But they have said that that is not possible, without saying when normal flights would be resumed.

The BBC's Jane Standley in New York
"Special praise for the firefighters"
The BBC's Rob Watson in Washington
"Growing impatience at Capitol Hill"
The BBC's George Eykyn
"Already they have identified many of the hijackers"
US President George Bush
"Freedom and democracy are under attack"
See also:

13 Sep 01 | Business
US allows limited air service
12 Sep 01 | Americas
Frozen with fear
12 Sep 01 | Americas
Spotlight on failed US intelligence
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