South Tower Wall Pulled Down

ByABC News

N E W   Y O R K, Sept. 25, 2001 -- The shattered skeleton of the World Trade Center is no more.

Workers pulled down the remaining and much photographed wall of the World Trade Center's South Tower. It was all that remained of the once massive 110-story twin towers following the Sept. 11 attacks when two hijacked airplanes crashed into them.

The roughly seven-story structure was considered a safety hazard, but this may not be the last anyone sees of it. New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani said it will be preserved for possible use in a memorial. Other ideas for honoring the victims include a commemorative U.S. coin and a fund-raising postage stamp.

"We will preserve as much of that wall as possible because there are people who have expressed an interest in doing a memorial that would involve reconstructing part of that wall," he said.

Little Hope Left

Two weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center, hundreds of work crews remain, leaving large construction equipment to remove the incredible amounts of debris remaining.

Officials say at this point it would be a miracle if anyone was found alive in the rubble.

"Miracles have happened," Giuliani said today. "But it would be unfair for any broad hope."

The number of missing people in New York is 6,347 and the number of confirmed dead rose to 287, with 224 people identified. Forty-one New York City firefighters have been identified with 311 still missing. So far, no New York City police officers have been recovered.

Only five survivors have been found in the rubble, none since the day after the attacks. The massive pile has surrendered fewer than 20 bodies per day on average since the attack.

There are an additional 189 people missing or dead from the terrorist attack on the Pentagon the same day. A fourth hijacked plane went down in rural Pennsylvania, after passengers apparently tried to wrest control of the aircraft from the terrorists. All 44 on-board were killed.

Giuliani said some victims will never be recovered from the World Trade Center site because of the intense fire caused by the explosions of the two hijacked commercial planes. The fires continue to burn, still producing thick smoke.

Firefighters today used a large fire hose to spray hundreds of gallons of water on the debris that used to be the North Tower. They had resisted doing so earlier, concerned about drowning possible survivors still trapped below.

Fewer Search Dogs, More Hard Hats

While fewer firemen and search dogs can be seen at the site, more construction workers have moved in to restore power and bring in heavy equipment to pull away the debris. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said it will take months for the area to be completely cleared of rubble.

To help the recovery effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded an emergency contract for dredging work to be done around Pier 6 on the East River to increase the depth there to 17 feet to make it easier for barges to enter and take away debris. So far, 115,755 tons of debris has been removed.

Also, concern has risen about the stability of a concrete wall that protects the World Trade Center foundation from the Hudson River. Officials say it is being watched carefully. Engineers are at the site 24 hours a day to make sure the underground wall remains stable.

Families May Apply for Death Certificates

The Red Cross said it has already begun issuing financial aid to the families of those who died or are missing in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Tax-free grants of up to $30,000 have been issued to victims' families to help them meet short-term expenses such as mortgages, utility bills and funeral costs.

On Monday, authorities took steps to make it easier for families of the missing to collect death benefits. Relatives also will be able to claim insurance benefits, workers' compensation and get access to victims' bank accounts without needing a death certificate.

However, Giuliani said that by Wednesday, relatives can apply for death certificates for missing loved ones, if they choose. He spelled out what victims' families will need to properly identify those missing.

"I know this is a very painful and difficult process and I emphasize that it is up to the family to decide whether or not to apply for a death certificate," Giuliani said. "We are now two weeks into this terrible attack and but for the first day after we have not been able to find anyone that survived the crash."

New York Gov. George Pataki signed an executive order speeding up the process.

Without a body, certification of death can take up to three years. The new plan will let survivors get death benefits more quickly.

Struggling Back to Work

Many businesses are still without power in the area. But Giuliani announced that both the city and state governments were preparing to make a fund available to businesses affected by the attack. Applicants could borrow up to $100,000 from the $50 million fund at discounted interest rates from standard bank rates.

Traffic through the site and into Manhattan remained a thorny issue. Although the mayor hoped to have more streets into the downtown financial area opened soon, he still advised New Yorkers to use mass transit.

Increased security checks at major bridges and thoroughfares into the city have caused massive traffic jams, prompting the mayor to contemplate a ban on vehicles with fewer than two occupants. Such a ban may take effect as early as Thursday, when traffic may already be significantly lower due to the Yom Kippur holiday.

There was some good news in the city — statistics released Monday showed violent crime dropped in the city 17.5 percent last week compared with the same period last year.

"New York City, before this happened, was one of the safest cities in America and since this event it has become much safer," Giuliani said at a press conference. "We're trying to get people to feel safe and this is good news. What is the point in not feeling safe? You can't do anything about it except to terrorize people with it."

ABCNEWS' Steffan Tubbs and Rose Palazzolo contributed to this report.

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