US ATTACK: Slammed CNN.com strips graphics, boosts bandwidth

Hit with heavy traffic following the U.S. terrorism attacks, popular news site CNN.com was scrambling to boost its server capacity and lighten up its site Tuesday in order to stay up and accessible, a spokeswoman said. "We have tripled our internal server capacity and streamlined our site to the minimum essential information," said company spokeswoman Edna Johnson.

CNN.com Executive Producer Mitch Gellman said the site has received calls from people as far flung as Italy and Minnesota, offering free bandwidth to keep the site up and running.

"We were really touched by the idea that people from around the world (were offering free bandwidth)," Gellman said. "They see CNN as a public service."

Gellman added that CNN.com, with its various online affiliates and resources, has sufficient capacity to handle the enormous traffic, however, and did not need to take anyone up on their bandwidth offers.

The CNN site, normally laden with various links and graphics, was pared down to one major story Tuesday, under the headline "America Under Attack."

"I have no idea what sort of volume we are doing at the moment, but obviously, it's massive. We have stripped the site down to the one story, because we feel that right now, there is only one story," said a CNN.com employee in the company's London news room who asked not to be identified.

In what U.S. President George W. Bush called "an apparent terrorism attack", two hijacked airplanes smashed into the World Trade Center in New York Tuesday morning, eventually causing the towers to collapse and wreaking havoc in the city. Since then there have been two other reported plane crashes, one at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., one in Pennsylvania.

According to Gellman, traffic on the CNN site soared just 10 minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Hoping to spread out traffic, CNN is also disseminating developing news on the attacks over its online affiliates such as CNNfn.cnn.com, the company's financial outlet, and sports magazine site Sportsillustrated.cnn.com, Johnson said.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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