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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
US rescue hopes fade
debris of World Trade Center
New safety fears disrupted the rescue effort
Efforts to find survivors of the devastating attack on the World Trade Center in New York have continued through the night, but hopes are fading.

As time goes on, it doesn't look good for finding survivors

New York fire chief Lawrence Cleary
The search for thousands of bodies believed to be trapped in the ruins was disrupted when a seven-storey building which used to link the twin towers began to collapse.

The New York Port Authority estimated the total death toll could reach 20,000.

Thousands more were feared killed in a shopping mall under the Trade Center.

In other developments:

  • The US authorities identify many of the hijackers who crashed two airliners into the twin towers on Tuesday.

  • President Bush describes the attacks as an act of war.

  • Nato promises support to the US, invoking unprecedented powers.

  • Congress prepares to vote $20bn in funds for emergency relief.

  • It emerges that the fourth plane hijacked may have been prevented from hitting its target by a group of determined passengers.

  • The authorities say they will allow a limited re-opening of US airspace, but the ban on regular services remains.

'Good versus evil'

President George W Bush expressed his shock on a visit to the damaged Pentagon in Washington. A stark hole now marks the spot where another hijacked airliner ploughed into the building.

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

Death toll
All 266 on board the four planes
100-300 at the Pentagon
82 bodies found at the WTC, but thousands thought to remain inside
Nearly 100 Britons confirmed dead
At least 259 rescue workers missing, feared dead
New York orders 6,000 body bags
The scale of the US search for those behind the attacks is unprecedented.

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

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

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

Hundreds of leads

The FBI has been following up on hundreds of leads and conducted searches in different locations across the country.

No arrests have been made, although the FBI says it has identified most of the hijackers and suspected accomplices.

Investigators raided two Boston area hotels thought to have been used by the hijackers.

A car believed to belong to the hijackers was also confiscated in Boston, and officials said it contained an Arabic-language flight manual.

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

It's burning inside - it's like Dante's Inferno

New York rescuer Giuseppe Sergi
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.

'Acts of war'

After a meeting with his National Security Council, President Bush described the terror attacks as acts of war.

Bin Laden
Bin Laden: Most wanted terrorism suspect
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 turned out they were directed from abroad.

Thousands feared dead

In New York, huge excavators and cranes, dwarfed by the mountains of rubble, have been picking at the debris of the World Trade Center.

The areas around New York's Empire State Building and Penn Station were briefly evacuated on Wednesday night after a bomb scare.

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 were still buried in the ruins.

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.

Some flights diverted during the original crisis were being allowed to resume their journeys on Thursday, but only under strictly limited conditions.

The BBC's James Robbins
"America is gathering itself for the first acts of collective mourning"
The BBC's Rob Watson
"Every lead is being followed"
Tracy Gray, Red Cross
"Thousands of New Yorkers turned out to show their support"
See also:

13 Sep 01 | Americas
Bodies pulled from the debris
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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