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Updated September 14, 2001, 9:45 a.m. ET
Rain hampers World Trade Center rescue efforts  
  
NEW YORK (AP) — Rescuers racing against the clock in a desperate attempt to find survivors in the World Trade Center's rubble faced a new obstacle Friday: rain.

"Three's no question they're hampered by it," said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "But there's still a strong hope we'll be able to find people, recover people and save them."

Rescue teams have been digging through the massive ruins since Tuesday's terror attacks, but hopes of finding survivors are dwindling. There are 184 confirmed dead, and more than 4,700 were reported missing.

The rain fell off and on, often heavily, throughout the morning Friday.

"The rain made the footing a little more dangerous," said Richard Coppo, a rescue volunteer. "We thought that maybe the rain would settle the dust and make things better, but actually it stirred it up."

The entire financial district of lower Manhattan has been closed since the attacks, but Wall Street plans to reopen on Monday. The mayor also said the Staten Island ferry, which serves the southern tip of Manhattan, would resume service Monday.

Confusing reports and worries of new terrorist threats have compounded New York's misery and anxiety.

Giuliani warned anyone making false bomb threats that they faced arrest, and urged the media to double-check any reports that might raise false hopes or kindle unwarranted fears.

He also reported that telemarketing swindlers were calling people to request donations to aid victims' families, and asked for help in tracking down and arresting those responsible.

Authorities detained at least 10 people of Middle Eastern descent Thursday in two separate groups at two New York airports. But Giuliani and his aides said investigators determined none of them had any connection to the terrorist attacks.

Three days after hijacked passenger jets plowed into the twin 110-story skyscrapers, thunder and lightning brought a torrent of rain to the mammoth heap of ash and twisted wreckage. But sodden rescue workers kept at it during downpours that began around 1 a.m.

Friday's storm followed a disappointing 24 hours. No survivors were found, only false hope. Reports of five firefighters recovered alive in a buried SUV were carried by television stations and news agencies, including The Associated Press. Authorities were ecstatic. But the story wasn't true.

The accurate report: Two firefighters had been temporarily trapped in an underground air pocket and freed by other rescue workers.

Volunteers, running on adrenaline and faith, were evacuated from a damaged office tower across the street from the Trade Center when the top 10 stories appeared unsteady. Workers fled, sprinting down the street.

No buildings fell. Giuliani said inspections Thursday found the buildings still standing were structurally sound.

At another spot, a chain of about 100 workers passed buckets of debris. A shout went up – a search dog had heard something.

"Quiet! quiet!"

Wheezing workers lowered their buckets and turned.

Seconds passed. A minute went by.

Then, those at the front of the line picked up their buckets, turned their faces, and went back to work.

Even the New York area's three busy airports suffered fits and starts. Open for the first time since Tuesday, they were abruptly closed after the detentions at the airports and remained shut down Friday.

Worries spurred evacuations across the city – at Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and CNN's midtown offices, among other locations.

Tens of thousands of residents in lower Manhattan remained homeless. From trendy TriBeCa to working-class Chinatown, investigators turned the five-square-mile area into a giant crime scene. Some lucky residents were allowed to retrieve a few belongings before being hustled out because of safety concerns and power outages.

At an armory, in hospitals and on the streets of Manhattan, thousands of distraught families searched for the missing. Almost every sentence began the same: "Have you seen ..." And nearly every plea ended the same: "If you know anything, please call ..."

More than 2,500 people stood in line at the armory on 26th Street and Lexington Avenue, waiting to complete missing-persons reports. At St. Vincent's Hospital, where many of the victims from Tuesday's World Trade Center attacks were taken, relatives waited to find out if their loved ones had been admitted.

Others stood on the street, trying to persuade reporters to print or broadcast the names and photographs of relatives they could not find.

But the largest crowd by far swarmed the armory, where the line snaked around the building – an entire block.

Caroline Burbank, 29, tried to keep her mind from wandering disturbing paths. On Tuesday, her fiance, Geoff Campbell, had left early for a conference both planned to attend at the Trade Center. Campbell has not come home.

"You picture what the scenarios could have been. And that's the worst. If he was scared or if he was alone when the building went down," she said, breaking into sobs.

They had not set a wedding date. "We were just going to go to the Caribbean and do it ourselves," she said.

"When he gets out, that's the first thing we'll do."

 

 
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