- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Workers at the world's loftiest landmarks are feeling vulnerable, no matter how placid their countries seem, and managers are toughening up security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Petronas, the Malaysian state oil firm that owns Kuala Lumpur's soaring towers, the tallest buildings in the world, has installed X-ray scanners at ground-floor entrances to check visitors' briefcases and bags for weapons and bombs.
In China, managers of Shanghai's Jin Mao Building, the world's third-tallest skyscraper, have set up a 24-hour fire patrol and sent evacuation maps to all tenants.
"People were less concerned about the security before the tragedy took place in New York," said Ding Guanglie, deputy director of the 1,381-foot building.
At Chicago's 1,450-foot-tall Sears Tower, the world's second-highest building, some people queasily scan the clouds for planes.
"That's way up there, so you can't help but be nervous," said Ozzie Lewis, looking up to the 83rd floor, where he works for an insurance firm. "I just hugged my wife and my son a little bit tighter this morning."
The danger is not just from the air. In Israel on Sunday, authorities said they had arrested two Palestinians who reputedly were involved in a plot to explode a car bomb in Tel Aviv outside the country's second- and third-tallest buildings, the 50- and 46-story Azrieli Towers.
Anxieties in some countries have been exacerbated by false alarms. Barely 12 hours after the attacks in the United States, thousands of people were evacuated from the Petronas towers because of a prank bomb threat the first since the nickel-plated buildings opened in 1996.
Many Malaysians wondered why anyone would want to blow up the 88-story towers, a symbol of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's campaign to modernize this Southeast Asian country.
But newspapers warned that the towers could have enemies, such as the Malaysian Mujahideen Group. Mr. Mahathir's government has accused the militant group of training in Afghanistan and bombing Malaysian churches in a campaign to create a hard-line Islamic state in this mostly Muslim nation.
"Before this, skyscrapers were supposed to be the most secure places," said Azlin Khalid, a human-resource executive who works on the 54th floor of one of the Petronas towers.
"I still believe that Malaysia is a very safe country, but I'm more concerned now about evacuation procedures in this building."
Workers in Hong Kong, which has three of the world's 10 tallest buildings, also expressed second thoughts about the wisdom of reaching for the sky, but many also take a fatalistic view.
"I've lived around the world. I've been in troubled places. So I think when your number's up, your number's up," said Chris Clark, director of a financial and real estate company at the 1,227-foot-tall Central Plaza.
Lee Yuk-king, an office assistant 10 floors down from the top of the 78-story building, agreed. "If a plane were to slam into our office, I probably don't even need to try to flee, since we are so high up. I'd probably be burned to death."
Many people seem to be trying to assure themselves that such an assault could not occur in their regions.
"We can't be sure it won't happen, but now that everybody is so sensitive about another attack, I just can't imagine it would happen again," said Ines Kelling, a worker at Europe's tallest building, the 981-foot Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany's high-rise financial capital.

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