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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Final moments of trade center victims
World Trade Center debris
About half the victims died in the north tower
Hundreds of doomed workers inside the World Trade Center spent their last moments saying goodbye - many in a calm manner - to friends and relatives outside before the twin towers collapsed, it has emerged.

In the first detailed picture of what went on inside the skyscrapers after they were hit by hijacked planes on 11 September, the New York Times reveals how some victims waited in vain for help while others made their escape.

It looks like a plane struck... it's horrible

Sean Rooney, south tower
The insight came from accounts from survivors and relatives and friends of those who died, as well as e-mails and phone calls made from victims inside the towers.

More than 2,800 people perished in the attack, nearly half of them above the 91st floor of the north tower, just below the point of impact, the newspaper said.

About 600 civilians died in the south tower near where the second plane struck, the Times said.

'Floors buckling'

A picture of panic and confusion in the north tower after the first plane hit at 0846 local time emerges from accounts of those trapped inside.

On the 92nd floor, worker Damian Meehan rang his brother Eugene, a firefighter.

People fleeing the World Trade Center
There was confusion and panic after the attack

"It's really bad in here, the elevators are gone," he told him.

Another worker, Rajesh Mirpuri, rang his boss, Peter Lee, telling him he could not see more than 10 feet (three metres) in front of him.

Twenty minutes after the north tower was struck, Christine Olender, a worker in the Windows on the World restaurant, called her general manager's home, saying: "The ceilings are falling, the floors are buckling."

Another restaurant worker, Ivhan Luis Carpio, left a message on his cousin's answer machine saying: "I can't go anywhere because they told us not to move. I have to wait for the firefighters."

Some workers did not know what had happened.

Carrie Tillman, whose grand-daughter Veronique Bowers died in north tower, said her grand-daughter kept telling her the building had been hit by an ambulance.

"She was so confused," said Ms Tillman.

South tower spectators

In the south tower, many workers watched the tragedy unfolding in the neighbouring tower, unaware they too would be hit 17 minutes later.

One man went berserk, screaming

Linda Thorpe, victim's widow
Sean Rooney left a message on his wife's voicemail, saying: "There has been an explosion in World Trade One - that's the other building. It looks like a plane struck it. It's on fire at about the 90th floor. And it's, it's - it's horrible. Bye."

Survivor Stanley Praimnath was on the telephone when he saw United Airlines Flight 175 hurtle towards him.

He said he could make out a red stripe on the plane's fuselage as the aircraft grew larger before he flung himself under his desk.

Linda Thorpe, whose husband Eric called from the upper floors of the south tower, recalled what she heard in the background.

"Someone asks: 'Where is the fire extinguisher?' Someone else says: 'It already got thrown out the window.'

"One man went berserk, screaming... I heard another person soothing him, saying: 'It's OK, it'll be OK'," she said.

The south tower collapsed about an hour after it was hit, while the north tower fell after nearly two hours.

See also:

13 Sep 01 | Americas
11 Sep 01 | Americas
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