NEW YORK, Sept. 13 -- Police Commissioner Bernard Kerrick said Thursday evening one person was arrested at JFK airport allegedly carrying a false pilot identification. Kerrick said five or six others were detained on suspicion, and were being questioned by the Joint Terrorist Task Force. JFK, along with LaGuardia and Newark in New Jersey were closed, after being opened for limited traffic early in the day.
With a wealth of reports coming in from all sides in the wake of Tuesday disaster, when two planes deliberately sliced through the landmark towers in lower Manhattan, sending them crashing to the ground, it has become hard not to jump on every new tidbit, no matter how slim.
Thursday, television reports had five firefighters being rescued after being trapped under the collapsed rubble of the two World Trade Center Towers Tuesday. But police said later that was untrue, that several recovery workers had fallen into a hole in the rubble, and had to be rescued themselves.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani derided the reports saying they raised false hopes for many families.
Giuliani said the list with the names of the missing is 4,763 and could grow. Asked about the dead he said, "I don't know how to put it but this is how the medical examiner put it: "The number of disaster count is 184. That means bodies or parts of bodies, and of these 35 have been identified." Giuliani said his earlier figures were wrong and out of those figures 47 were whole bodies.
As bodies or parts of bodies are recovered, they are taken to a staging area, tagged and put into body bags and placed in one of six refrigerated trucks on the site.
They are then taken to the city morgue, or to a secondary morgue set up in a hanger at LaGuardia airport where they are fingerprinted, the bodies and teeth are X-rayed, samples taken for DNA analysis, and other efforts are made to identify them. Once they are identified, they can be released to their families.
Morgue spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said only a few bodies have been released to their families.
Families of the missing were gathering outside the massive red brick building that headquarters the 65th Infantry of the New York National Guard. They plastered poster and computer printouts with details of missing families and lined up in front of a phalanx of television cameras to tell their stories.
Under the windshield wipers of some of the cars parks in spaces reserved for official cars were other flyers.
A picture of a smiling man identified him as William Bethke with a note "If seen please call 609-585-7141 or 609-585-3972."
Another showed Sadie Ette, who worked in the Window on the World restaurant on the 106th floor, with a list of seven members of family and friends waiting to hear from her.
Yet another was of a young Indian woman in a white graduation gown carrying flowers. She was identified as 23-year-old Saranya Srinuan, who worked for Cantor-Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the World Trade center.
Florence Staub, 61, of Bronx, had two photos of her son, Craig, on a printout, one showing him as groom with his bride, Stacey, 29, who is pregnant and expecting Sept. 22, which would be the 31st birthday of Craig.
Craig, of Basking Ridge, N.J., was employed by KBW, in an office on the 89th floor of tower two.
"We last heard from him after the first plane hit the building," she said. "He called his wife. She was in the shower and was too late to answer the phone and got it off the message machine." The message was: "A plane just hit the trade center. I'm OK."
"He told her call back, but when she did, it was too late," said Staub.
Staub was visibly upset. "We've had enough bullshit from the politicians. We need more information."
Vanessa Bundza of Woodside, Queens, was looking for information on her uncle, Edward Martinez, 60, who worked for Cantor-Fitzgerald on the 104th floor.
"The last thing I heard was when he called his wife and said 'I'm fine. Do not worry' after the incident. She told him to come home but he said he was staying there."
Tears welling in her eyes she described her uncle as "wonderful." "He would say 'yes' to anything," she said. "He would give the shirt off his back."
Beatrice Ahern, dabbing her tearing eyes with a handkerchief, said she was looking for information on her husband of 32 years, Jeremiah, 74. They live in Cliffside, N.J., and he worked for the New York Tax Department.
She said her husband had called her shortly after the first plane struck and said "I'm OK." She said she told him "Please leave the building" but he responded, "I see it (the plane) and I'm staying."
The families are issued identification kits at the armory, or at several other sites around the city. The kits ask for personal and physical characteristics of those presumed missing, for photos, for locations of X-ray and dental records and for descriptions of clothing and jewelry they were believed to be wearing.
On Thursday, many New Yorkers tried to get out and restore some normalcy to their lives. Many workers in uptown and midtown Manhattan attempted to return to their work routine but a series of telephoned bomb threats to several buildings including Grand Central Station, the empire State Building, and Met tower left them on edge.
"I don't think it's worth being here," a female said. A bomb threat had been telephoned to her building and she said she walked down 18 flights of stairs among people crying, "I don't want to be here."
Many streets were filled with people for the first time since Tuesday."
A street filled with people walking suddenly became a stream of panic when a few people stepped up the pace. Soon people were running in a panic for no reason. A police officer calmed the people down and said "We have to be calm, if we're not, they win, then they get the best of us."
On Friday, the city expects to narrow the forbidden zone in southern Manhattan from 14th Street to Canal Street, the heart of Chinatown and the border of Little Italy.
But uptown, police are at almost every corner and security is especially tight around the United Nations, where sand-filled salt spreaders guard the entrances.
The city has become festooned with American flags, and stores are reporting they are running short. Whitewashed "God Bless America" signs are scrawled on many cars.
Although Giuliani says the city would be more open Friday, subway service is still spotty.
But President Bush is expected, possibly for a visit close to Ground Zero, but also for a prayer visit with many of the city's chaplains.