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FBI targets Florida sites in terrorist search

Survivors may be still in Trade Center rubble

World Trade Center
These images taken from amateur video show the second airliner crashing into the World Trade Center  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- FBI agents targeted homes and post office boxes in south Florida for searches late Tuesday with warrants based on passenger lists from the hijacked planes used in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington earlier in the day.

In New York, rescue crews continued to search for survivors in buildings near the destroyed towers of the World Trade Center.

"We do know that there are people in the building that are alive, and we are making every effort to get to them," New York Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik said late Tuesday night.

An inferno erupted when two jetliners crashed into the Trade Center's twin towers and caused the buildings to collapse, imperiling up to 40,000 people who worked there.

A short time later, another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington where up to 800 people remain Tuesday night.

The FBI used information from the planes' passenger lists to obtain search warrants for more than one location in south Florida, including homes and post office boxes, a law enforcement source told CNN.

"We're looking at south Florida ties to some of the people we're looking at," the source said. One search will made at a location in Daytona, the source said.

The White House announced late Tuesday that the first-ever nationwide grounding of flights would be lifted Wednesday and planes should be flying by noon.

Recovery efforts

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said bulldozers have been brought in to help clear away the rubble to make rescue efforts easier.

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"Ongoing fires and damaged buildings could hamper rescue efforts, but those efforts were continuing overnight," said the mayor.

Almost 300 emergency personnel in New York -- 78 missing police officers and 200 firefighters -- are presumed dead along with the 266 people on the four hijacked airplanes.

Among those presumed dead are the New York Fire Department's deputy chief and first deputy commissioner. Also presumed dead is Ray Downey, who led the NYFD team that helped out after the bombing in Oklahoma City.

President Bush suggested Tuesday how high the death toll may rise when he said "thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror."

He also issued a warning to any nation that may be giving refuge to those responsible for the terrorist attacks on the United States.

"We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them," the president said from the Oval Office of the White House as he promised retaliation.

U.S. intelligence officials told CNN, "There are good indications that persons linked to Osama bin Laden may be responsible for these attacks."

Afghanistan, believed to be the home of bin Laden, denied the wealthy Saudi exile was connected to the attacks.

Asked if bin Laden was a suspect, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "It's not the time for discussions like that."

Other U.S. officials said that while the focus is on bin Laden, they have not ruled out other suspects.

They also said they believe more threats exist. Pentagon sources told CNN that all U.S. military sites around the world have gone to ThreatCon Delta, which means that a terrorist attack has occurred or that an attack at a specific location is likely.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said there were "no specific warnings" before the attacks.

Knives and box cutters

Although officials said the attacks appeared to have been well planned and executed, a passenger on the plane that hit the Pentagon said in cell phone call to her husband that the terrorists were armed with knives and box cutters.

The passenger was Barbara Olson, a CNN commentator and wife of Solicitor General Theodore Olson.

Attorney General John Ashcroft in his briefing to members of Congress said the hijackers were working in groups of three to five members.

"We will expend every effort and devote all the necessary resources to bring the people responsible for these acts -- these crimes -- to justice," Ashcroft said.

American Airlines Flight 11, carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members en route from Boston to Los Angeles, slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan shortly before 9 a.m.

About 15 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175, also en route from Boston to Los Angeles, with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard, crashed into the south tower. The building exploded into flames and collapsed.

Another building, 7 World Trade Center, collapsed hours later. It had been burning since shortly after the planes stuck the Twin Towers. Other nearby buildings are ablaze in the area.

A Boeing 757 jet plowed into the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m. Witnesses said the plane hit what is known as the "Army Corridor."

FBI sources said the aircraft was an American Airlines flight hijacked after taking off from Washington Dulles International Airport bound for Los Angeles.

A fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey, headed for San Francisco, crashed in a wooded area near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Police said there were no survivors. There were 38 passengers, five flight attendants and two pilots.

"The plane is thoroughly disintegrated," Jim Marker of Somerset County's 911 Emergency Management Center told CNN. "There are no remains, no survivors.

Senior FBI sources said, "There is no doubt the planes [all four] were hijacked."

Intelligence sources told CNN there were indications of attempts to divert the United flight from Newark to crash at Camp David, Maryland, the presidential retreat. It is unclear how that plan may have been thwarted.

U.S. military officials said none of the planes were shot down by U.S. aircraft.

They did not know that specific plane was involved. Callers from two of the other hijack planes called on cell phones to say their planes had been hijacked.

Hijackers may have flown planes

James Kallstrom, the retired FBI agent who led the investigation into the explosive crash of TWA 800 in July 1996 that killed 230 people, said he believed the hijackers must have flown the planes into the buildings themselves.

"I can't imagine any American pilot crashing an airplane into one of these buildings, even with a gun to the head. They wouldn't do that," said Kallstrom.

"You've got people that not only are willing to give up their lives for a horrendously, in my view, stupid, cowardly act, but they are sophisticated enough to fly a modern jet plane."

The U.S. military went on full alert. Two aircraft carriers left the Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, in response to the attacks to provide upgraded air defense for New York and Washington.

Officials in Washington said a "Continuation of Government" plan was activated. The activation involves a fortified facility at Mount Weather, Virginia. There was no word whether any of the U.S. leadership or ranking military officers were taken to the facility.

Although the city of Washington declared a state of emergency, Rumsfeld told reporters Tuesday afternoon that "the Pentagon is functioning. It will be in business tomorrow."

Members of Congress were quick to blame bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire blamed for bombings at two U.S. embassies in Africa. He is believed to be based in Afghanistan.

"This looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who said he was briefed by officials at the highest levels of government.

Hatch added: "We're going to find out who did this and we're going after the bastards."

"This is obviously an act of war that has been committed on the United States," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

In Kabul, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Wakeel Ahmed Mutawakkel said, "We in Afghanistan do not allow Osama bin Laden to use Afghan territory to launch any attack on any government around the world."

He said the Afghan government had taken away bin Laden's communication devices, "and he has not been in touch with anyone outside Afghanistan."

Mutawakkel said the Taliban will conduct its own investigation. "We will determine what really happened. We denounce this terrorist attack, whoever is behind it."


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