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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK
Panic on the stairs
New York skyline
Eyewitnesses spoke of disbelief as the World Trade Center collapsed
BBC News Online users have been sending in their extraordinary first hand accounts of the horrific attacks in New York and Washington.

Mac Delaney was working in the south tower of the World Trade Center when the aircraft struck the north tower.

He describes how his colleagues were shocked as the plane hit the tower, thinking it was a terrible accident.

"When word came around to evacuate the second tower, there was panic.

"People jammed the stairwells and the elevators were all over capacity.

"We got out and just ran like there was no tomorrow. When we stopped to look back, there was a huge gaping hole, smoking, in the side of the first tower.

We could not believe what we were witnessing

Mac Delaney
"Someone saw the second aircraft and the streets just went quiet. We could not believe what we were witnessing.

"Nobody could believe a second aircraft was crashing into the second tower. It was like some disaster movie.

"The explosion was huge - the plane must have been fully fuelled - and it shook everyone down at street level.

'Giant mushroom'

"The fallout of debris was like a giant mushroom and as we watched, it was as if it was happening in slow motion.

"Then we heard about the third and fourth aircraft from an NBC guy and it was like 'Holy cow! This cannot be happening! He's got to be making this up!'

"We must retaliate, but I have no idea how."

Brendan MacWade was at work on the 40th floor of the north tower when the plane struck.

The numbers of dead will far exceed 20,000 from what I have seen

Brendan MacWade
"My office chair rolled forwards and then backwards when we were hit," he says.

"I witnessed the horrifying collapse of 2 WTC as I walked home on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"I am just so lucky to have been able to walk away from this without a scratch.

"The numbers of dead will far exceed 20,000 from what I have seen."

Mr MacWade says that one of the things he will never forget is the firefighters who were walking up the stairs of the World Trade Center tower as he was walking down.

"I can only assume that those brave and selfless men lost their lives today along with so many others."

Fears for brother

Michael Holmes, of the UK, fears that his brother Charles, who works on the 92nd floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, is dead.

"We presume he has died and still cannot contact any of our friends in New York to confirm.

"We will continue to seek word of our brother but must now presume the worst."

D S Khavkin, of Arlington, Virginia, says her home has a panoramic view of the Pentagon and the downtown area of Washington DC.

"We were watching the events unfolding on TV in New York.

"Then, at about 9.40am Eastern Daylight Time, my husband and I heard an aircraft directly overhead.

The enormity of what we witnessed and what has happened has just begun to sink in

D S Khavkin
"At first, we thought it was the jets that sometimes fly overhead. However, it appeared to be a small commercial aircraft. The engine was at full throttle."

She says the plane then headed for the Pentagon.

"It crashed on the lawn near the west side of the Pentagon.

"A huge fireball exploded with thick black smoke.

"The enormity of what we witnessed and what has happened has just begun to sink in.

"We just thank God we are okay and that it happened in Washington DC where we are prepared to handle situations such as this."

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