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Report: Victims alive in rubble

©Associated Press,
published September 12, 2001

NEW YORK -- A man caught under the rubble of the World Trade Center reportedly used his cell phone Tuesday to reach family in Pennsylvania with a plea for help.

"(They) received a call from him saying he was still trapped under the World Trade Center. He gave specific directions and said he was there along with two New York City sergeants," said Brian Jones, 911 coordinator in Allegheny County.

Jones would not give their names, but said the message was passed to New York authorities.

As night fell Tuesday, the city braced itself for more pain: picking through the rubble for the dead and the injured.

Government officials estimated that the loss of life from Tuesday's attacks is likely to be horrendous -- as many as 50,000 people could have been in the 110-story twin towers.

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the complex, some 50,000 people went to work in the towers each day, and another 90,000 people visited them.

Emergency and public officials said it would take days to reach a death toll.

An estimated 200 firefighters may have died and as many as 80 police officers were reportedly also missing after the attacks.

"We're going to have to bury a lot of people," said Mike Carter, vice president of the firefighters union.

Carter estimated that half of the 400 firefighters who first reached the scene may be dead.

Eight hours after the catastrophe began, hundreds of firefighters sat on the West Side Highway or leaned against their rigs, waiting for orders to go into the leveled skyscrapers and search for what they feared would be hundreds of bodies -- including many colleagues.

"This is going to hurt," said Jack Gerber, a 43-year-old Brooklyn firefighter.

"A lot of guys got killed today."

He said that after the first building collapsed, surviving firefighters passed cell phones around to tell their loved ones they were alive.

- Information from Scripps Howard News Service was used in this report.

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