The announcement came during a televised telephone call with Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
“I weep and mourn with America,” the president said.
The mood at the recovery center in downtown Manhattan remains grim. So far, 94 bodies have been pulled from the rubble. On Thursday a police spokesman mistakenly reported that five firefighters were found alive.
However two firefighters did escape from an underground pocket they’d fallen into earlier in the day at the World Trade Center disaster. They had been missing since this morning.
The number of people known to be missing totals 4,763, according to the mayor. He said the missing included people from the two airliners that crashed into the twin towers, and “information we’ve been able to glean from businesses” who are looking for people that they believed were working at the trade center.
Families searching for relatives are registering at a center at a city armory at Lexington Avenue and 26th Street. It will “operate every single day,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We’ll do everything we can to help you.”
The area below 14th Street remains closed to everything but emergency vehicles, while city managers determine how to best open corridors down to Wall Street.
In Washington, President Bush said he would join a prayer service at the National Cathedral on Friday. He also warned that the U.S. would find everyone involved in the attacks.
“My resolve is steady and strong about winning this war that has been declared on America,” Mr. Bush said. “It’s a new kind of war. The government will adjust and this government will call other governments to join us.”
But the president also called on Americans not to vent their anger on Arab-Americans and Muslims, even though Islamic extremists are high on the list of possible suspects in the trade center and Pentagon attacks.
During their call, Governor Pataki praised the president for his leadership and said his visit will be an inspiration to all New Yorkers.
“I also want to thank you for all the help we’ve gotten from the federal government, it’s been tremendous. And for your words, you are right, our nation is united as never before and we will triumph over this evil with your leadership and your inspiration.”
The president promised that the federal government would do everything it could to help the victims’ families receive money as soon as possible.
Mayor Giuliani applauded the action saying, “[T]he relief that you’re now making available to the families is going to mean a lot to them. They’re going to be able to think about the fact that their children are going to be taken care of, that they’re going to be able to go to college, that they’re going to be able to carry on.”