Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was targeted at the United States, but it also is likely to have killed citizens from more than 60 nations.
U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan said yesterday that 62 countries have reported their citizens missing since the twin towers collapsed one week ago. He cited the number during his first visit to the disaster scene, where Annan described the carnage as “much worse than I thought.”
New York police said yesterday that 5,422 people have been reported missing. The number increased by more than 400 this week as foreign embassies and consulates began listing their citizens with the city”s emergency center, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said.
“So it was not just an attack on New York or the United States,” Annan told reporters, wearing a paper mask to ward off dust and grit. “It”s on the world. No one can remain indifferent.”
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, in his most explicit statement yet to families of the victims, said chances of finding survivors were “very, very small.”
He added: “This is still a rescue effort, but we don”t have any substantial hope that we can offer anybody.”
Rescue workers said they were bracing themselves for finding corpses and body parts rather than survivors. “Nobody”s really talking about it, but it”s not a happy scene in there,” said John Caccavale, a firefighter from Newark, N.J.
No one has been rescued since five people, including three police officers, were pulled out alive the day after the attack.
The confirmed death toll climbed to 218 yesterday, with 152 of the victims identified.
Officials at the United Nations and the U.S. State Department declined to provide details regarding missing foreign nationals. A U.N. spokesman said Annan was told yesterday by Secretary of State Colin Powell that 62 nations had reported citizens missing.
Among the hundreds of tenants in the twin towers were banks, trade offices and government offices of many countries particularly from Asia. They included an office of the government of Thailand, the Bank of Taiwan, the Nishi-Nippon Bank, Fuji Bank, the China Chamber of Commerce, the Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co., and the Banco Latino Americano de Exportaciones.
“We are astonished by the evil in our midst, stunned at the scale of the tragedy, dazed by the disregard for human life, overwhelmed by the wound that has been inflicted on this city, on this country, on us all,” Annan said at a synagogue in Manhattan before touring the disaster area.
At the ruins, Annan said news photographs and television images had not prepared him for “the magnitude and the horror” of the attack. He thanked rescue workers, telling them, “All the (U.N.) ambassadors and staff are rooting for you.”
Accompanying Annan were Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki, and a delegation of U.S. senators considering more emergency financial assistance for the city.