Watch CBSN Live

Missing Persons List Grows to More Than 6,000

The staggering toll from the attack on New York's World Trade Center got a good deal worse today with an announcement from Mayor Rudy Giuliani. CBS's Byron Pitts is on the scene with the latest.

Late today the number of missing jumped by nearly a thousand as foreign countries reported the names of their citizens--6,333 people missing and presumed dead.

Those sobering numbers came on a rain-soaked day. Beneath nearly a million tons of debris lay more people than live in many small towns across America.

Adding to the misery, steady rainfall brought the rescue mission to a near standstill. Only the heavy machines and ironworkers could operate in the conditions. It was simply too dangerous for rescue teams to work in the debris field.

"The water adds weight to anything we're doing out there. It's gonna turn that concrete dust back into hard concrete. The slipping hazards have increased," says Kelly Aasenn of the Army Corps of Engineers.

There are 16 solid acres of death and despair, holding thousands of decaying bodies. But doctors say--unlike disasters in many Third World countries--the bodies beneath this rubble should not pose a health hazard to the general public, or to rescuers.

"These people are healthy and it's unlikely they were carrying diseases that are easily transferred from person to person," says Dr. Stephen Baum, an infectious disease expert at Beth Israel Medical Center.

In one more sign of historic bipartisan solidarity, some 40 US senators toured the disaster site. The powerful and the famous have come to New York to offer their support. From legendary boxer Mohammed Ali to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who lost up to 300 of his countrymen in the attack.

"Your loss we take as our loss. Your struggle is our struggle, says Prime Minister Blair.

Tonight the official death toll stands at 241, that number will surely rise--and soon.
©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue