NEW YORK — Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Tuesday that there was little chance of finding anyone alive in the smoldering wreckage of the World Trade Center as the city paused to remember the thousands feared dead.
"We don't have any substantial amount of hope we can offer anyone that we will find anyone alive," Giuliani said. "We have to prepare people for that overwhelming reality."
There were 218 confirmed dead and 5,422 missing Tuesday. Only five survivors have been found, none since Wednesday. Search crews recovered 17 bodies overnight.
The mayor's somber message came a few hours after people across the stricken city paused at 8:48 a.m., the exact moment when the first jetliner crashed into the trade center one week earlier.
"When you keep silent these two minutes, it seems like a really long time. I'm thinking of people who were looking for their loved ones," said Nancy Pelaez, an administrative assistant on her way to work. She paused and wiped away tears.
In suburban White Plains, a grand jury has convened to review evidence and issue subpoenas related to the trade center attack, a source familiar with the investigation said on condition of anonymity.
At ground zero, firefighters in heavily gloved hands continued to sift through sand-like grit and hauled away steel beams. There are no plans to stop looking, and some rescue workers said they hadn't thought about the anniversary moment in advance.
"Somebody said it's been about a week, so we paused to think about it," said tired-looking Lloyd Crago, a Youngwood, Pa., firefighter who worked the overnight shift.
"We keep going. We know what we have to do," said Sgt. Mike McGarry of the Port Authority Police emergency services unit.
There was concern over the fires smoldering near a stockpile of Freon stored beneath the towers, but Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said no leaks had been detected. No hazardous substances had been found in the air except some dust with slightly elevated asbestos levels, the EPA said.
After a morning of gridlock and spotty train service Monday, street and subway traffic was better Tuesday, smoothed by fewer commuters thanks to the Jewish New Year holiday.
Despite the challenges in the financial district, Arthur Stern saw the flood of workers returning to the area as a positive sign.
"The fact that all these people are here proves what a safe haven this country is," Stern said.
Uptown, Rick Hales, 56, a Queens salesman, took the morning off and stood alone in front of NBC studios in Rockefeller Center. He said that at 8:48 a.m., "I will be hoping that this world will be a better place."
Just across the East River from the WTC site, Empire State Building worker Callie French prayed the rescue workers would find some of her missing friends or the firefighters from her neighborhood.
"I'm so grateful to be alive," she said after her moment of silence. "I have a feeling in my gut that everything will be OK. There's hope."
Still, Red Cross volunteers distributed fliers telling survivors of the attacks to expect feelings of fear, sadness, anger and even guilt.
"Whenever possible, remember that you are still free and that there is still beauty in the world," the flier read. "It's OK to smile."
And people did smile — at one another and at the armed police and National Guardsmen patrolling the streets. But there was rage, too.
"There's so many things to think," said Leroy Batson, 58, a shipping clerk from Brooklyn, who paused on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
"I'll be honest, I'm pretty angry," Batson said. "There's too many evil things to think. I was thinking of revenge. I'm sorry but that's the human in me."