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Passport of suspected hijacker found in debris

AP | Sept 16 2001

Comment: The steel towers melted and collapsed, vapourizing human bone and flesh with them, yet a paper passport came through that unscathed?

The passport of a suspected hijacker was discovered near the ruins of the World Trade Center, authorities said Saturday as exhausted rescue workers clawed through the wreckage, searching unsuccessfully for signs of life.

FBI Assistant Director Barry Mawn did not disclose the name on the passport or other details, but the discovery prompted an intensive search for evidence blocks from the towers that were brought down in Tuesday's terrorist attacks by two hijacked planes.

The find came as financial experts declared nearby Wall Street ready for at least a semblance of business Monday. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said a new ferry service carrying passengers between Brooklyn and Manhattan would help workers get to their offices.

"This could be the most jarring event in American history," he said. "There's every reason to understand why people are going to be very traumatized or very upset by it, but the best way to deal with it is to try to get back to normal."

The city also released a partial list of victims, and Giuliani said 159 people had been confirmed dead, including 18 firefighters. Nearly 5,000 are missing, among them an FBI agent and a Secret Service agent.

John Hartley, a volunteer from White Plains, N.Y., spent a grueling 16-hour shift passing buckets of rubble by hand. When it was over, he practically staggered up the street. "You're taking out rubble a brick at a time. You're always hoping that you find something," he said.

A small sign of normalcy came from a few blocks away, where the New York Stock Exchange successfully tested its computer and communications systems and said it was ready for trading to resume Monday.

The Nasdaq and the American Stock Exchange, which like the NYSE have been closed since the attack, also planned to reopen Monday.

Back at the trade center, details of rescuers' grisly finds since Tuesday began to emerge. Among them were a pair of hands, bound together, found on a rooftop, authorities said.

The New York Times reported Saturday that one rescuer found the body of a flight attendant, whose hands were also bound. Another worker told the paper he had found the remains of people strapped to what seemed to be airplane seats.

About 300 firefighters were lost in the carnage, by far the worst tragedy since the city's first engine companies were formed in 1865. Giuliani said the New York's Fire Department would announce 160 promotions today to replace fallen officers.

The department mourned three top officials at funerals Saturday, including a beloved chaplain who had comforted colleagues for decades.

The Rev. Mychal Judge -- known to all as Father Mike -- was one of the first to arrive at the trade center after the planes slammed into the twin towers. He lived in a Franciscan friary opposite a Manhattan firehouse, and responded with that unit after the first reports came in.

Judge died while giving last rites to a firefighter mortally wounded by a falling body. When the priest removed his fire helmet to pray, he was struck in the head by debris and killed.

As firefighters said goodbye to their comrades, city officials said the number of people missing in the terrorist attack had grown by more than 200 from Friday. The total is now 4,972, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said.

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