WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush directed federal agencies to excuse from duty employees dealing with personal emergencies because of the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington.

The order applies to any employees, including law enforcement and relief workers, who can be spared from the job.

Bush also said teams of specialists have been formed to assist with federal benefits and workers' compensation claims of federal employees injured or killed in the attacks.

``I convey my deepest sympathy and heartfelt sorrow to our fellow Americans and their families who have been affected by these senseless acts of violence,'' Bush said.