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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 15:57 GMT
The BBC's Jane Standley in New York
The BBC's Jane Standley joined us for a live forum and answered a selection of your questions.
To watch coverage of the forum, select the link below:
New Yorkers are coming to terms again today with another tragedy in their city a day after an airliner crashed onto a residential suburb.
Investigators say preliminary evidence points to mechanical failure rather than terrorism as the cause of Monday's air crash in New York, but for many hours Americans feared they were again under attack and the city tunnels and highways were closed temporarily.
So far 265 bodies have been recovered from where the American Airlines jet crashed, near the city's John F Kennedy airport. Up to nine people are still believed to be missing. Many residents and firemen in the suburb were killed in the Twin Towers attack.
It was the first major airline crash in the United States since four passenger flights were crashed in suicide hijackings on 11 September, destroying both towers of the World Trade Center in New York and smashing into the Pentagon in Washington.
Another question on that point from Bill Clark, Camden, UK: The American authorities seemed quick to label this disaster an accident even though there seemed to be no communication between the plane and air traffic control before the crash. I don't wish to sound like a conspiracy theorist but would there be advantages for the authorities to cover up a terrorist attack? That thought must be going through many people's minds.
It certainly would be in the government's advantage, that if this was a terrorist attack, to cover it up. But I don't really think that that is possible here. Certainly most people don't believe that. But look at some of the CIA's record, for example, - it's assassination of world leaders and dirty dealings abroad. There will be people like your questioner from Venezuela, who are thinking is there something strange going on here. I think certainly other countries in the world will perhaps put that view forward. But it's certainly not anything widely believed here in the United States. This is pretty much accepted as a tragic and dreadful accident that really has shaken people more than it would because of the timing.
But at the same time much of life amazingly goes on as normal in the city. I think there are increased security precautions but there are worrying gaps. For example, I know of certain places in the city where the security looks very, very good - with police, with trucks filled with sand as buffers against any suicide bombers and these police can't actually communicate with each other, with radios and cell phones and that is quite worrying.
Also there have been incidents over the past week at JFK airport where a terminal had to be closed down temporarily because agents who were watching security staff checking people observed that those security checks were not being done properly. I think there is a lot more that needs to be done. As somebody who has travelled widely around the world, America is still not up to the security standards of other countries. Bags, for example, travelling without passengers on planes still continues. This worries me as someone who has to get on a plane here.
So many people have been touched by this who saw the twin towers fall, fled for their lives. There are things that we are going to see over the coming weeks, months and years in New York. The psychologists believe there will be an increase in abuse of children, of physical relationships, of alcohol, drugs etc. as a result of what people have endured. I think that the scars on the city are very, very deep and it doesn't really help that people have now been through this air crash. Also we remember in the weeks in between that and the World Trade Center attacks, the anthrax scares and people who have been infected and killed in this city, that's really frightened people as well.
I think on the issue of firms - big financial houses who've relocated out say into New Jersey just across the river from Manhattan - that is going to have a long time effect on the downtown area of New York. It's going to be hard to lure those firms back in. We don't yet have a comprehensive rebuilding plan or budget for the downtown part of New York and businesses in that wider area - restaurants, dry-cleaners, florists - all the peripheral things that go with having a big working population - 70,000 - 80,000 people have lost their jobs or are no longer going to the area around the World Trade Center. It is not hard to see how those people and those firms are affected. It's not a good outlook at the moment.
13 Nov 01 | Americas
New York crash 'an accident'
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