New York City health officials say area hospitals have been deluged with casualties following an attack on both towers of the World Trade Center.
Most casualties, officials say, are being treated for severe burns, though emergency workers say perhaps thousands more are suffering from smoke inhalation and other injuries.
Two planes – at least one of them hijacked – were flown into each WTC tower. American Airlines has claimed the first plane that struck the trade center; airline officials said it was American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles.
Port Authority police – whose jurisdiction includes the World Trade Center area of Manhattan – said they had no idea how many people were in the buildings when the planes struck.
Other officials said about 10,000 people would be in each tower during “normal business hours” on any given day. Officials added that about 5,000 visitors a day came into the buildings.
After the first plane struck, officials began to evacuate both towers. But they added they did not know how many people were still in the second tower when the second airliner plowed into it.
Port Authority officials said they wanted to first make sure the buildings were declared safe before sending in emergency crews to find survivors.