NU Online News Service, Sept. 15, 2:08 p.m. – Smoke is still rising from the remains of the Manhattan World Trade complex this afternoon, but the smoke is whiter than it used to be, and authorities are saying that may be a sign that new fires are abating.

Rescue workers are still trying to find survivors, but the rain that fell Friday has given the debris a consistency similar to that of soft concrete, making excavation work more difficult.

The rain did help people in other parts of Manhattan breathe more easily, by washing some of the dust and smoke out of the air.

Meanwhile, fighter jets and military helicopters patrolled overhead as airports returned to limited service.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the complex and subsequent explosions and fires originally knocked down the famous, 110-story, World Trade Center twin towers in a little less than two hours.

Many other buildings at that complex, the nearby World Financial Center, and neighboring buildings have collapsed or are severely damaged.

Some life insurers, health insurers and asset managers have been facing severe concerns about the safety of their employees because they had offices in the trade center towers, but many more are facing disruptions in operations because they had offices in the buildings that are now damaged, or because they have offices in other buildings in southern Manhattan.

New York has been gradually opening up Lower Manhattan, but traffic and mass transit operations are severely snarled as a result of security-related detours and bomb threats.