Rescue Effort Continues After Scare Of Another Building Collapse

 

The death toll from the terror attack on the World Trade Center was rising, but late Thursday night there were still no clear numbers. Mayor Giuliani says thousands are still unaccounted for, as desperate families hold out hope for missing loved ones. He confirmed that the city has asked the government for 6,000 body bags. Rescue workers were digging through the twisted rubble Wednesday night, looking for bodies and anyone who may still be alive. Sarah Wallace reports from lower Manhattan.

It is important to stress that this is still a rescue effort, and one that returned full force late Wednesday night, after some pretty frightening moments. The fear caused by the building at One Liberty Plaza, the foundation of which witnesses say appeared to be shaking Wednesday afternoon. A fear that building would join the others in the area and fall forced a mass evacuation of the area. Rescue workers came running towards us, yelling to get out.

As word came of another possible high rise collapse Wednesday afternoon, it was time to move.

Rescue Worker: "The whole front of it is twisting, so they want everyone out of there."

They moved us an entire block away, leaving behind our live truck. We were told, just get out of the area. The rescue workers were also told to clear out.

But as darkness set in, firefighters set back to work, after engineers determined that One Liberty Plaza was not in danger of immediate collapse. Some volunteer rescuers we spoke with had spent most of the day digging in what is being called "The Hole."

Rescue Worker: "It looks like a war zone. Buildings all collapsed on top of each other."

Rescue Worker: "Everything is pancaked, like a "V" shape."

Wallace: "So how do you search in there?"

Rescue Worker: "On your belly. On your stomach, you crawl in there in tight spots. We were in some tight spots, so tight we had to get a camera to come in and see what it was."

Word came earlier that one police officer had miraculously survived an 82-story slide as one tower collapsed. But by evening, rescuers seemed to discover only bodies.

The irony, there were signs of normalcy mixed with the surreal, but now terrible reality of what happened.

Wallace: "Were there personnel things that you saw as you searched."

Rescue Worker: "Papers, memos, plane tickets. We found some parts of the plane."

All of that debris, three tons of it so far, are being taken over to the Fresh Kills Landfill where it will be sifted through and sorted out to determine what might be evidence.

Meanwhile, a federal disaster official promised Wednesday night that New Yorkers would get whatever help they need.

Joe Allbaugh, FEMA: "I was stunned at the devastation, but more importantly I was impressed with the resilience of the New Yorkers I saw on the street. That is what will get us through these trying times. Our agency, FEMA will be here as long as necessary, shoulder to shoulder, making sure that everything that New York City needs, New York City will get."

Those trying times certainly continued as the rescuers continued their work for the second night. And while workers and officials were still trying to be positive, with hopes of finding more survivors, the reality of the depths of this tragedy became more and more real, as a makeshift morgue was set up in a nearby school.

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