No more survivors expected at Pentagon crash site

No more survivors expected at Pentagon crash site

Search and rescue operations continued at the Pentagon today, following yesterday's crash of a hijacked commercial jetliner into the building, but authorities said they do not expect to find additional survivors. The toll of fatalities and injuries is not known yet, officials said.

As many as 200 Arlington County, Va., firefighters and police, assisted by a rescue workers from several other jurisdictions, worked at the scene, the Defense Department said in a statement.

The area of the Pentagon where the aircraft struck and burned sustained catastrophic damage. 'Anyone who might have survived the initial impact and collapse could not have survived the fire that followed,' according to the statement.

'When the aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, it reportedly was carrying several thousand gallons of jet fuel, which caused an intense fire in the immediate crash area,' the department said. 'Reconnaissance efforts conducted overnight indicate that there are no survivors in the immediate collapsed area.'

Listening devices deployed by the rescuers have detected no signs of life, and it is doubtful that anyone in the impact area survived, the Pentagon said.

Rescue authorities plan to use a wrecking ball today in the collapsed section of the Pentagon to remove unstable rubble so search and rescue teams can begin working. Stabilizing the building will allow full search and rescue operations and ensure the safety of the teams, officials said. Federal, state, county and military officials cooperated to devise the recovery plans.
The crash damaged in part an area of the building that was recently reopened after more than three years of costly renovations and modernization.

The disaster affected Wedge 1, which is designed like a modern office building and had been reopened in April, officials said. The extent of the damage is not known yet.

'We're doing damage assessments that will begin this morning and take several weeks,' Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski said.

A Defense spokeswoman added that although Wedge 1 was hit, newly installed, stronger structural steel prevented it from collapsing like several other corridors that had not been renovated.

The Pentagon was built in 1942 out of reinforced concrete. It was designed in five wedges that form pentagonal rings, running from the E ring on the outer edge to the innermost A ring.

The crash affected a portion of the renovated wedge as well as a portion of the adjacent older wedge. A portion of the concrete from the older wedge collapsed from the impact.

Wedge 1 is a stark contrast to the World War II-era building's four other wedges. Defense plans to finish the $1.1 billion project by 2014, with Wedge 2 renovations starting either late this year or early next year, officials said.

The revamped Pentagon will house more than 25,000 people in an office complex light years ahead of the old structure technologically, Tom Fontana, public affairs team leader for the Pentagon Renovation Program, said in an interview on the opening of Wedge 1.

The Pentagon has accumulated more than 100,000 miles of copper and fiber cable [GCN, Aug. 31, 1998, Page 88]. During the renovation of Wedge 1, the cable was replaced with new fiber-optic lines for a high-speed asynchronous transfer mode network that DOD expects to last for at least another half-century, Fontana said.


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