Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the city had some 30,000 body bags available to hold the pieces taken from the rubble. Still, he said there were just 94 confirmed dead, of whom 30 or fewer had been identified.
``Let's just say there was a steady stream of body bags coming out all night,'' said Dr. Todd Wider, a surgeon who was working at a triage center. ``That and lots and lots of body parts.''
A vast section of New York City was sealed off Thursday. Work was slowed by hellish bursts of flame and the collapse of the last standing section of one of the towers taken out by twin suicide jets.
The 4,763 missing reported by Giuliani, added to the deaths in Washington and Pennsylvania when commandeered airliners crashed into the Pentagon and a grassy field southeast of Pittsburgh, would bring the total to more than 5,000.
That would be higher than the death toll from Pearl Harbor and the Titanic combined. A total of 2,390 Americans died at Pearl Harbor nearly 60 years ago, and the sinking of the Titanic claimed 1,500 lives.
On Wednesday, five people were pulled alive from the Trade Center rubble - three of them police officers.
A thick cloud of acrid, white smoke blew through the streets Wednesday after the four-story fragment of the south tower fell. Gusts of flame occasionally jumped up as debris was removed from the smoldering wreckage.
``The volunteers are literally putting their lives at risk,'' Giuliani said.
In New York, the landscape was a haze of gray dust, splayed girders, paper and boulders of broken concrete. Firefighters armed with cameras and listening devices on long poles searched for survivors. German shepherds and golden retrievers clambered over the debris, sniffing.
Giuliani was among those who escaped Tuesday's attack uninjured, bolting from a building barely a block from the site when the first of the towers collapsed.
More than 3,000 tons of rubble was taken by boat to a former Staten Island garbage dump, where the FBI and other investigators searched for evidence, hoping to find the planes' black boxes with clues to what happened in the final terrifying minutes before the crashes.
The densely packed bottom tip of the island, an area roughly five square miles, remained off-limits to everyone but emergency workers. Volunteers emerged from the search-and-rescue mission with grisly tales as they cleared away the twisted steel and glass wreckage of the twin towers.
One body was carried out wrapped in an American flag. When workers hung another American flag from a piece of a transmission tower that apparently survived the collapse, ``everybody stopped and saluted,'' said Parish Kelley, a firefighter from Ashburnham, Mass.
Kelley spent the day working in a crater left by the towers' collapse. As he picked through the rubble, he watched as a man's body - a cell phone still clutched in his hand - was carried out.
``We're looking at a pile of rubble 30 to 40 feet high. Where do you start?'' said sheriff's Sgt. Mike Goldberg of Hampden County, Mass., accompanying a search-and-rescue dog.
Among the missing: at least 202 firefighters and possibly up to 350; 154 workers from the Port Authority; 57 NYPD and Port Authority police officers; 38 members of a Manhattan management company. Another 150 were unaccounted for at the Pentagon. The four hijacked planes carried 266 passengers and crew.
Back at Bellevue, a firefighter almost had to have his leg amputated so he could be freed from the rubble, said Pataki, who visited the hospital to thank medical workers and speak with patients.
The governor asked him why he would risk his life. The unidentified firefighter told him: ``What do you expect? I'm a New Yorker.''
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