- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

Rescue workers turned their efforts to a grim recovery task at midday today as a senior Pentagon official reported at least 190 persons perished as a result of Tuesday's terrorist airplane attack on the military's Virginia headquarters.
Arlington County Fire Department Chief Edward P. Plaugher said in the third day of the rescue and recovery effort that the operation's supervising command team made the decision that the rescue operation officially would be labeled a "recovery operation."
"We presume that there are no survivors, and I hope I'm wrong," Chief Plaugher said.
The Pentagon official said at least 126 persons are unaccounted for and presumed dead 74 Army, 42 Navy and 10 Defense Department personnel in the suicide crash of American Airlines Flight 77, which also killed 64 passengers and crew members aboard the plane.
The Army's casualties include 21 military personnel, 47 civilians and six contract workers; the Navy's fatalities include 33 military personnel and nine civilians.
The official said the death toll could rise as more missing contract workers and consultants are located under the pile of rubble at the point of the plane's impact.
Rescue crews from Montgomery County and Memphis, Tenn., part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, began combing through the charred rubble of stone, wood, glass and bodies at 7 a.m.
Recovery operations were called to a halt at about 7:40 a.m. because of a bomb scare, and the building was partially evacuated. Those working in the areas of the building unaffected by the blast were not evacuated, a Pentagon spokesman said. Crews did not resume the recovery work until about 9 a.m.
"We are going to see this more than once," Arlington County Police Chief Edward Flynn said. Those making threats against the Pentagon and rescuers are "simply just evil people."
While members of the search and rescue teams said they still were hopeful of finding survivors, Army helicopters and trucks began carrying away the bodies and remains of the dead late yesterday evening and throughout today.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department officials said about "70 [to] 80 bodies or their remains" were removed from the building, with at least 50 to 60 of those bodies and remains transported to the morgues at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del.
A temporary mortuary and refrigerator trucks also are on the scene at the Pentagon to handle casualties, which exceed the 168 persons lost in the Oklahoma City bombing.
At Dover, extra personnel from private funeral homes and public morgues have been called in to help military workers process the dead so the bodies can be turned over to their families. Officials at Dover said they can process up to a 100 bodies a day.
Capt. Scott Graham of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department said rescue/recovery operations are starting to focus on the collapsed center or "pinpoint" of the attack.
"Everything that you see standing is where we've been," Capt. Graham said, noting that the impact area is "several hundred feet deep and several hundred feet wide" and that the blast left the building charred for a stretch of more than two city blocks.
Chief Plaugher and crews could be on the scene for "many, many more days." Some estimate that rescuers will be working for at least eight more days
Capt. Graham said he still is hopeful of finding survivors, especially in searches of small void spaces created when the building collapsed.
FEMA spokesman Marko G. Bourne said the recovery process for both remains and criminal evidence was "slow going." Investigators with the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board are working hand-in-hand with the two teams of 68 rescuers, who work 12-hour stretches, he said.
Mr. Bourne said they are still searching for the black box and that crews are finding more of the passenger plane, which mostly disintegrated upon impact.
"It broke up considerably," Mr. Bourne said.


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