NEW YORK – While many firms with offices inside the World Trade Center's twin towers were able to locate their employees, tragedy struck bond trading powerhouse Cantor Fitzgerald after Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
Cantor's offices, which held 1,000 employees, were on floors 101 and 103 through 105 in the center's 110-story north tower. In a tearful television interview, Cantor Fitzgerald Chief Executive Howard Lutnick said Thursday that he was unaware of anyone who escaped from their World Trade Center offices.
Lutnick said he wasn't in the office on Tuesday because he was bringing his son to his first day of kindergarten.
``My view of business is different,'' Lutnick said. ``I need to try to be successful in business so I can take care of ... 700 families who are dreaming to find someone,'' referring to the families of the employees feared dead.
In a "lucky" twist of fate, Cantor just last Monday — the day before the attack — had let go some salespeople from the fixed-income division. The number of layoffs ranges from 20 to 100 people, officials say. It is also unclear how many of those people worked in the Twin Towers.
The 57-year-old partnership accounted for more than 25 percent of the $3 trillion U.S. government bond business on any given day.
Officials at Cantor said they would rely on a disaster recovery plan that enables the firm to trade from London, Tokyo or a backup site in Rochelle Park, N.J.
On Thursday, some 270 employees, who were either on vacation or out of the office at the time of the attack, decided to join their colleagues around the world and go in to work to open the bond market.
Many of those same workers are still haunted by the screams of their colleagues trapped in the World Trade Center, which they heard during their conference call the morning of the attack.
The news is in stark contrast to the relief felt at investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., the World Trade Center's largest tenant with 3,700 employees.
Morgan Stanley said Thursday a remarkably high number of its staff escaped Tuesday's attacks.
Morgan Stanley, which occupied 25 floors in the complex, was only missing 15 employees, a high-ranking executive said Thursday evening. The firm had earlier said between 30 and 40 workers were unaccounted for.
``The loss of just a single life is too many,'' Chief Executive Philip Purcell said in a statement. ``But when you consider the incredible destruction that occurred, the loss of fewer than 40 of our people out of the 3,700 who worked there is a near miracle.''
Morgan Stanley's operations previously located at the World Trade Center will be moved to other sites in Manhattan and facilities in New Jersey and Brooklyn. Morgan Stanley will be open for business when U.S. markets resume trading, Purcell said.
Workers at Morgan Stanley's Discover credit card unit call centers fielded calls from people looking for or offering information on the firm's employees, it said.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.