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35 questions

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 13, 2001

Sorting it out, looking ahead.

The Rescue

1. How long can someone survive in the rubble?

Park Sung-hyun survived 16 days when the five-story Sampoong Department Store collapsed in Seoul, South Korea, in 1995. She was 19, healthy and had access to some water.

Pedrito Dy was rescued 14 days after the 1990 earthquake in the Philippines buried him in the basement of a Hyatt Hotel. He was 27, a part-time fitness instructor and in excellent shape.

2. How many survivors have been rescued from the World Trade Center rubble?

Six firefighters and three police officers. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said two people trapped in the basement have been in contact via cell phones and have relayed their locations. The callers said others were trapped with them.

3. How many firefighters were at the World Trade Center? How many are dead?

About 400 answered the call when the planes hit. Then the towers collapsed. As of late Wednesday, 350 are unaccounted for. Among those reported dead were Chief of Department Pete Ganci, 1st Deputy Commissioner Bill Freehan, Special Operation Commanding Officer Raymond M. Downey and the department's chaplain, the Rev. Michael Judge.

Also, 33 police officers are reported killed and 40 are reported missing.

4. Can a dollar figure be put on the total damage?

Estimates of the insurance payout vary from $5-billion to $25-billion. Even the lower estimate dwarfs the previous record expense for a man-made disaster: the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which cost insurers $775-million, or $1-billion in today's dollars.

Natural disasters tend to hurt insurance companies more because claims are concentrated in homeowners' policies. The biggest disaster was 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which resulted in $15.2-billion in claims -- about $19-billion today.

Damage to the World Trade Center itself is estimated at $4-billion. Legal claims brought by relatives lost in the attacks could top $3-billion.

5. What will they do with the debris?

Much of the mangled steel will have to be cut up on site so it can be trucked away. Much of it likely will be recycled, according to Eugene Corley, a structural engineer who has been asked to investigate the World Trade Center collapse. Some debris already is being hauled off on barges to the Freshkills Landfill on Staten Island.

In Oklahoma City, the rubble was not recycled because the bomb there left so many victim remains in the debris. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building debris was carted off to a landfill and buried. Corley said that such reverential disposal might be impossible with the World Trade Center; there is too much metal and it would take up too much space in a landfill.

The hijackings

6. Was the White House or Air Force One the initial target of the jet that hit the Pentagon?

Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the government had "credible information" that the jet that hit the Pentagon intended to hit the White House.

They would not say how they knew. Fleischer said he hoped the news might help the public understand why the president flew to Louisiana and then to Nebraska before coming to Washington: "That also was one of the reasons why Air Force One did not come back to Andrews, when people may have thought it would."

7. Have they determined the target of the plane that crashed outside Pittsburgh?

No. Speculation centered on the U.S. Capitol, the White House or Camp David.

8. Are there any limitations on the airspace around the U.S. Capitol?

The airspace over downtown Washington, including the Capitol and White House, is some of the most tightly restricted in the country. Known as Area P-56, it stretches from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol and north to the White House.

Only approved flights, including presidential helicopter trips, may fly over the White House below 18,000 feet.

9. The hijackers may have used knives. How difficult is it to get a knife past airport security?

Apparently not difficult. Federal regulations state: "FAA guidelines allow knives with blades up to 4 inches. However, state and local laws may restrict the carriage of smaller knives in a public airport." Two Associated Press reporters said they have dropped Swiss Army knives into plastic containers as they walked through airport metal detectors, only to pick them up afterward and carry them aboard.

10. Should passengers try to overpower hijackers armed only with knives?

The FAA offers no official advice, because it has never happened before. Says retired FBI agent Gregg O. McCrary, who taught hostage negotiation:

"Until yesterday, the best advice was to comply, to go along with these guys because the plane will set down someplace. Once the plane is on the ground, you have a pretty good chance of surviving." But now: "If you can just gang-tackle these guys somebody may get hurt, but if it looks like the whole plane is going down, why not?"

11. Does Logan Airport in Boston have a history of lax security?

In 1999, the major airlines at Logan were fined $178,000 for at least 136 security violations during the previous two years. In most incidents, screeners at terminal checkpoints failed to detect pipe bombs, guns and other weaponry. Boston Port Authority officials say their security measures are as tight as any major city.

12. Then why did the terrorists target planes out of Boston?

Aviation director Thomas Kinton speculates: "We were chosen ... because of our proximity to the New York area and the fact that we have wide-bodied aircraft leaving our airports fully loaded with fuel that participated in this tragic kamikaze-type attack."

13. How secure are cockpit doors?

They are closed and locked during flight. But they are made of a honeycomb-like material with break-away panels that can be kicked in.

There is traffic in and out of the cockpit (a flight attendant serving refreshments, a pilot leaving to use the bathroom). A terrorist could take a hostage and demand the door be opened.

14. What new security procedures will be in effect when America's airports reopen?

There likely will be more thorough searches of all planes and airports; no curbside check-in, or check-in at hotels and other off-airport sites; a ban on all knives and other cutting instruments, including plastic; more searches of flight crews and passengers; and armed sky marshals aboard jets.

Hunting the killers

1. What is known about the ties between the suspected attackers and Osama bin Laden sympathizers?

Federal authorities say they have developed intelligence linking the suspected attackers to a band of Osama Bin Laden sympathizers in Canada. Some are of Algerian origin and are suspected of planning an unsuccessful terrorist attack in the United States during the millennium celebrations.

2. What are the terrorists' links to Florida?

Based on a review of flight manifests from the four doomed flights, authorities made a number of Florida connections, including whether the hijackers attended pilot training schools in Florida.

Federal agents told a Venice man that two men who stayed with him while getting flight training were involved in Tuesday's attacks. One suspect's driver's license comes back to a Coral Springs address, and his car was registered to an address in Venice. One of the terrorists' air tickets was confirmed to have been purchased at Miami International Airport.

From a Sarasota recording studio, the FBI seized a copy of a CD with songs by the Arab Assassins, a band that sang of upcoming terrorist acts that the "world will remember."

3. What is the Taleban?

The word taleban means "seekers after knowledge." Taleban is a militant Islamic group. The group controls a large portion of Afghanistan and wants to turn it into a united Islamic state.

Since 1996, when Taleban forces seized Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, they have enforced extreme adherence to Islamic laws; Taleban members include Afghan and Pakistani Muslim students, and Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

In 1999, the United Nations imposed trade sanctions against Afghanistan for refusing to surrender Osama bin Laden.

4. What was his reaction to the attacks?

"Osama bin Laden thanked Almighty Allah and bowed before him when he heard this news," said journalist Jamal Ismail, quoting a bin Laden aide. "But he had no information or knowledge about the attack."

5. Why can't the United States just assassinate him?

He is protected by the Taleban government. He reportedly has set up an elaborate security system and frequently moves from base to base by pickup truck or helicopter. He uses decoys and leaves few clues.

He is on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list, with a $5-million reward.

6. Could Bin Laden be extradited?

The BBC quoted a spokesman for Afghanistan's Taleban militia saying it would consider extraditing him based on the evidence. Previously, the militia had maintained that allowing Bin Laden to remain in the country was a matter of honor.

7. Why do terrorists hate us so much?

For Palestinian extremists, America is the prime support for the state of Israel.

For Iraq, the United States led the coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait, and which daily enforces punishing sanctions -- including bombing missions that have killed civilians recently.

Bin Laden has said his rage was stoked when the United States deployed troops to Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Many devout Muslims believe that the land of Saudi Arabia, where the prophet Mohammed lived and died, is sacred and should be off-limits for nonbelievers. Bin Laden also bitterly opposes U.S. support of Israel.

8. What countries have NOT condemned the attack?

Even nations long at odds with the United States -- Cuba, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Iran -- denounced the attacks.

Iraq did not. An Iraqi state-run newspaper described the attacks as due punishment. "Now, America is gaining the fruits of its worldwide crime," said the al-Iraq newspaper.

9. The United States announced that it was "tightening our borders." What does that mean?

After the attacks, the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor was closed. Security was tightened at all Canadian and Mexican entry points and for Great Lakes shipping, including Coast Guard inspections on St. Marys River, between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The U.S. section of the St. Lawrence Seaway was closed.

Security at border crossings was dramatically tightened. At all land, sea and air entry points, customs agents began verifying the identities of each arriving traveler, causing lengthy delays.

News you can use

1. How can I check if a relative or friend in New York is safe?

Missing Family and Friends Hotline: 866-856-4167; 212-741-4626; 212-560-2730.

You can try these Web site/message boards. Traffic is heavy and the sites may be slow:

2. When will regularly scheduled air service resume? Can I get a refund?

Only some planes have been cleared to fly: those that were diverted Tuesday were cleared to take passengers to their intended destinations, and airlines are allowed to reposition empty airplanes. But as of late Wednesday, it was still uncertain when regular air service will begin.

Airlines are offering refunds on canceled flights, and you can change a flight without a penalty.

3. If only ticketed passengers can get past airport security now, what if I have an e-ticket?

You must have either a paper ticket or some kind of confirmation that you have an electronic ticket. If you don't have it with you, you'll be sent back to the ticket counter to obtain one.

3. Is the U.S. mail back to normal? What about overnight delivery?

Expect continued delays. Post offices are open, but mail delivery has been slowed because of the airline crisis.

Overnight mail is still a problem. FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service are continuing to accept and deliver packages via ground transportation. FedEx said many shipments will be delayed at least 24 to 48 hours, and it has temporarily suspended its money-back guarantee. UPS said deliveries to Manhattan are limited.

4. How can I donate money?

The United Way set up a fund as a conduit for money being distributed to established emergency assistance agencies, including the Red Cross. Send contributions to the September 11th Fund, c/o the United Way, 2 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016, (212) 251-4035.

Other choices:

The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington D.C., 20013.

The American Federation of Government Employees has set up a World Trade Center/Pentagon Fund, for victims employed by the federal government. (303) 933-7580.

The Salvation Army. (800) 725-2769.

5. Should I donate blood today, or should I wait?

Blood centers suggest people wait and make an appointment. Lines are so long that people are having to wait up to six hours to donate; some are even being turned away. They anticipate needing blood several weeks down the line.

Donated blood usually is divided into three components: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Red cells expire after 42 days; plasma can be frozen up to a year; platelets, though, can be stored only for three to five days.

6. When will the stock markets reopen?

The markets are scheduled to resume trading Friday, but it may not be till Monday. Financial markets with no physical presence in New York's Lower Manhattan financial district planned to get back to work today. When trading resumes, the shutdown on the NYSE will have been the longest since a nearly four-month closing during World War I.

7. Most insurance policies don't cover acts of war. Will that affect Tuesday's victims?

The exclusion generally is defined as a declared war between nations. With increased risks of global terrorism, some commercial insurance policies may have inserted exclusions for damage caused by terrorist attacks.

8. Have decisions been made on the big college football games this weekend?

The Tennessee/Florida football game is on. The Georgia Tech/Florida State and Washington/Miami games have been postponed. South Florida plans to play its game Saturday if Southern Utah can arrange travel.

9. What about sports scheduled in Tampa Bay?

The Bucs/Eagles game Sunday is up in the air; the NFL hasn't decided whether to play Sunday.

The PGA's Tampa Bay Classic was canceled.

Major League baseball, which canceled games Thursday, hasn't announced the weekend schedule.

10. Janet Jackson and other shows have been canceled or postponed. How do I get a refund?

The Janet Jackson concert has been rescheduled for Oct. 26. You can keep your ticket or get a refund.

For a list of canceled or postponed shows, see Page 2B today. Refunds can be obtained at the point of purchase; call the venue for more information.

11. I have a tip I want to pass to the FBI. How can I do that?

Call 1-866-483-5137, or e-mail the FBI on their Web site at

- Compiled from Times staff and wire reports

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