NEW YORK (AP) Underneath the crushed concrete and twisted steel girders of the World Trade Center lie about $200 million in gold and silver owned by a Canadian bank.
Officials at the Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia have no idea when they will be able to recover the gold and silver but aren't worried that someone might try to steal it.
``All of ground zero is extremely secure,'' said bank spokeswoman Diane Flanagan.
The gold and silver was in a vault at 4 World Trade Center, which was reduced to rubble just like the twin towers that collapsed after the Sept. 11 attack. It was not immediately clear in what form the precious metals were in, such as ingots or coins.
``We have every reason to believe it is safe and intact,'' Flanagan said. ``And we have every reason to believe it is fully recoverable.''
Besides the legions of police officers who prevent onlookers from approaching the trade center site, the bank has hired its own security contingent to protect the assets.
Flanagan wouldn't say how many security officers are on duty at the site for the bank, or what precautions have been put in place. The eight vault employees who kept watch over the gold and silver before the attacks escaped unharmed.
The gold and silver is insured and is part of a larger cache controlled by the bank's bullion and precious metals subsidiary, Scotia Mocatta Depository Corp.
Flanagan said the inability to get to the gold and silver hasn't affected the bank's ability to do business because the buried treasure represents a small fraction of its precious metal holdings.
She didn't know when the bank might be able to get back its property, saying authorities now have other priorities, such as recovering bodies as they slowly clear away the wreckage.
``It's recoverable, but probably in a long time,'' Flanagan said.