- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

NEW YORK (Agence France-Presse) Firefighters and emergency crews rescued at least 25,000 people from the blazing twin towers of the World Trade Center before the buildings collapsed two weeks ago, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday.
He described the evacuation as "the largest single rescue in the history of the United States."
The Red Cross yesterday announced it had started distributing $100 million to families of those who were unable to escape the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Families will receive up to $30,000 each in tax-free grants designed to cover immediate financial needs such as funeral expenses, rent and mortgage payments.
The organization said the unusual measure, which was announced as just 287 bodies of the 6,347 believed killed had been recovered from the trade center, was a response to the scale of the tragedy.
"What has taken place is extraordinary, and we must respond in an extraordinary way," said Red Cross President Bernadine Healy. "We have never faced a disaster of this size or intensity."
Relief groups have been swamped with more than half a billion dollars in contributions for victims of the attacks and are now under pressure to disburse the money quickly but wisely.
The scale of the giving has dwarfed any previous U.S. relief effort. It also has turned the spotlight on how the huge sums of cash will be distributed and prompted fears that other worthy causes will suffer from fewer contributions.
"What has been so amazing is the speed with which the money has arrived; it has been an emotional outpouring," said Ani Hurwitz, spokeswoman for the New York Community Trust, which, along with the United Way of America, is administering the September 11th Fund.
The fund, which has raised $120 million, is just one of myriad fund-raising efforts that have been swamped by donations. The American Red Cross has received around $200 million, the Twin Towers Fund for fallen firefighters and police officers has raised more than $70 million, and a live telethon on major television networks brought a further $150 million.
Meanwhile, the last standing piece of the trade center towers a seven-story twisted metal ruin was torn down yesterday and saved for potential use in a memorial.
"We're going to preserve as much of that wall as possible," Mr. Giuliani said before workers attached cables to the structure and began bringing it to the ground. "We may be doing a memorial with some or part of that wall."
Amanda Gallaghre, a Manhattan tour guide, was one of several people watching near the site as the last chunk of the building came down. She was supposed to lead a tour of the trade center on the afternoon of the attack.
Only five persons have been found alive in the ruins of the towers, and they all were dragged from the rubble hours after the towers were toppled by two hijacked passenger airliners.
Mr. Giuliani was speaking after attending the funeral of one of about 300 firefighters who were believed to have died in the inferno.
"There is not enough attention being paid to the fact that the men and women of the Port Authority, the fire department, the police department, and emergency services people effectuated the largest single rescue in the history of the United States," he said.
"I don't know of any time when 25,000 people, at least, were saved by a heroic and professionally executed evacuation," he added.
"If that evacuation would not have been what it was, without the people who gave their lives to remain inside the building, without thinking about themselves …" he went on, but did not finish his sentence.

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