Archive for Friday, August 29, 2003

Transcripts reveal devastation after 9-11 attacks

August 29, 2003

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— In the frenzy of phone calls that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, trapped workers begged in vain for an escape route and anguished wives desperately sought lost husbands. Screams and sirens echoed in the background as bodies dropped out of the sky.

The haunting images emerged Thursday as the Port Authority released 2,000 pages of transcripts from emergency calls and radio transmissions that provide a fierce first glimpse behind the scenes in the moments after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

From 1 World Trade Center, the assistant manager of the Windows on the World restaurant made four calls pleading for help as 100 people remained trapped with her near the top of the 110-story tower. "We're trying to get up to you, dear," a police officer offered reassuringly.

Many callers were inaudible, yet the horror and hysteria of the morning when 2,792 people died jumps off the typed pages.

"Yo, I've got dozens of bodies, people just jumping from the top of the building onto ... in front of One World Trade," says a male caller. "People. Bodies are just coming from out of the sky. ... up top of the building."

"Bodies?" replied a female operator.

People were stranded throughout the buildings, with calls for help pouring in from the 78th floor, the 88th, the 103rd, the 107th. One male caller from the 92nd floor of the second tower asked a Port Authority police officer, "Should we stay or should we not?"

"I would wait 'til further notice," the officer replied. A second, similar call -- with the same police response -- came in shortly after. No one in the top floors of the tower survived after the second plane hit around the 80th floor shortly after 9 a.m.

The transcripts' release followed a court battle between the Port Authority and the New York Times.



Most Americans think terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden are in this country and have the resources to launch a major attack, says a poll released two weeks before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.The CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll found that four in five think terrorists are prepared to launch a major attack anytime. More than half, 54 percent, said they thought more terrorist attacks were likely in the next few weeks.

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