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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
New York takes steps towards normality
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge has partially reopened to traffic
"I'm excited to be back. It was a long time because the World Trade Center went boom," said Jason Brilliant, five, as he reported for kindergarten in New York's Greenwich Village.

Schools near the site of the World Trade Center remain closed, many acting as bases for rescue workers, but the pupils have now been relocated to other schools in the area.

Rudolph Giuliani
Mayor Giuliani: Dubbed "Rudy the Rock"
Residents of nearby Battery Park City - one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in Manhattan - were also allowed to visit their homes on Thursday for the first time since the explosions to clear out fridges and pack belongings.

And Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Manhattan island to the mainland, was partially reopened to traffic.

Glad to be back

For the city's children, returning to school is an important sign of returning order after last week's attack.

Stephanie Klapper McCoy, dropping her daughter off at Public School 3 in Greenwich Village, said five-year-old Caitelin was still traumatised, and needed "to get back to normality".

The city's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, said rescue workers would continue to search for survivors, though it is unlikely that they will now find anyone alive.

Workers have retrieved just 241 bodies from the wreckage of the twin towers, of which 170 have been identified. Another 6,333 are missing. No-one has been pulled out alive since last Wednesday, a day after the attack.

Bleak chances

New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said on Wednesday, that given the extreme heat at the lower levels of the recovery site, the chances of finding survivors are "very slim".

Candles against the New York skyline
Tony Blair is attending a memorial service for the British victims
But Mayor Giuliani, whom the French press have dubbed "Rudy the Rock" for his stoicism during the tragedy, told the US NBC TV network that "even weeks ahead, while we're removing stuff, obviously we're going to be looking."

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was in the city on Thursday to attend a memorial service for the 300 British victims of the attacks.

The bleak assessment of the victims' chances of survival came as engineers warned that New Yorkers must be prepared for another calamity - flooding.

Engineers are warning that the walls of a giant concrete box, 20 metres deep, which acted as the foundations of the World Trade Center, are in danger of collapse.

Click here to see how the area is threatened

Weakened foundations

Engineers believe that only the debris of the towers is holding the foundations up and removing that rubble could make them collapse - under pressure as they are by the water and mud that surrounds them.

If they do, there is a real danger that water from the Hudson River, which runs on one side of the island, could flood the metro station under the WTC and then flow along its tunnels into the main subway system.

Twisted metal at the WTC recovery site
The WTC site is becoming increasingly treacherous
In order to reduce this risk, emergency workers are having to excavate the site very carefully and shore up the walls as they go.

Small amounts of water, presumably from rain, fractured pipes and fire hoses, have already trickled down to what remains of the underground station.

Contractors are planning to block the water by inserting giant concrete plugs into the ends of the tunnels underneath the remains of the centre.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ben Brown
"The sense of urgency has finally gone for the rescuers"
The BBC's Emma Simpson
"People have been returning home all morning"
The BBC's Stephen Evans
"The search for survivors is over"
See also:

16 Sep 01 | Americas
Nation united in grief
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Manhattan's new homeless
13 Sep 01 | Education
City schools re-open with counselling
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