Federal buildings in Washington closed, thousands evacuated

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal offices in the nation's capital were closed Tuesday after planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.

About a quarter of a million people were sent home early, federal officials said.

The order to close government buildings was given soon after 10 a.m., said Cathy McDermott, a spokeswoman for the Office of Personnel Management.

At some of the high-profile facilities such as the White House, Capitol, Pentagon, Supreme Court and the Treasury and Justice departments, employees were evacuated. Officials at the Office of Personnel Management were unable to provide exact numbers, though it was thought to be in the tens of thousands.

Those who monitor the federal work force say:

--About 23,000 people work at the Pentagon.

--About 21,000 work at the Department of Justice, with roughly half of that work force downtown.

--About 24,000 work at the Department of Treasury, with about two-thirds of those employees downtown.

--About 9,000 work at the Department of State, with roughly 8,000 of those downtown.

The District of Columbia government shut down and ordered nonessential personnel to leave, and many private firms also closed and sent employees streaming home, jamming the subway and roads.

Later in the day, the General Services Administration said it was allowing any of the 8,300 federal office buildings that it controls around the country to close. The action was not the result of threats, but a way to be cautious, agency officials said.

About a million people work in those GSA buildings, which make up about 40 percent of the federal office space around the country. The GSA has increased patrols and restricted outside parking at the buildings and is working with federal law enforcement agencies to keep its buildings secure.

GSA officials had no immediate reports on how many of the buildings were closed.

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