Memorial service will halt recovery work at trade center site for only second time

Saturday, October 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ On a day when the smoke and smell in lower Manhattan brought a visceral reminder of the World Trade Center attack, city officials put the finishing touches Saturday on plans for a memorial service at the ruins.

``For a large number of families, the idea of being at the site was very important to them,'' Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told a news conference at City Hall. ``It was important to them to pray, and to feel a connection to the people they lost.''

The Sunday afternoon service, limited to families who lost a loved one in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, was expected to draw about 2,000 people. More than 4,000 remain missing in the rubble.

Giuliani spoke after attending one of the 16 memorial services scheduled Saturday for city firefighters, police officers and one Port Authority police officer.

Around City Hall on Saturday, smoke from the fallen 110-story twin towers was heavier than usual as round-the-clock cleanup efforts continued. Not even a minor early morning earthquake that rattled the metropolitan area stopped work at the pile of debris in lower Manhattan.

``I thought it was a train going by,'' one worker said.

Work, however, did halt Saturday night to prepare for Sunday's memorial service, according to the Office of Emergency Management.

It's only the second time work has stopped at the site. On Oct. 11 at 8:48 a.m. _ one month to the minute after the first hijacked plane struck the trade center's north tower _ a moment of silence was observed amid shattered concrete and twisted metal.

The event will feature readings by religious leaders, and performances by Andrew Lloyd Webber and opera stars Andrea Bocelli and Renee Fleming.

After Sunday's service, each family will receive an urn filled with soil from the site, as promised by Giuliani earlier this month.

The mayor said the city settled on the idea after learning that con men were peddling phony mementos from the trade center ruins to family members. Authorities have said that many of the victims' bodies may never be recovered from the 1.2 million tons of rubble.