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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Sombre mood in the City
City workers walking past the London Stock Exchange
The City: 'Everyone was just quiet'
By BBC News Online's Mary Hennock in the City

Staff arrived for work in London's financial district in a subdued and sombre mood on Wednesday.

The streets lacked the usual jostle, few commuters spoke, most looked down and many were pale-faced and red-eyed.

Middle-aged investment bankers in pinstriped suits brushed past, their faces showing plainly that they had spent the night in tears.

Many staff stayed away from work altogether.

At Bank tube station, lawyer Michael Vernell looked around him and said: "The City actually looks very quiet, the trains seemed very quiet and the stations are quite quiet."

Bank station is at the heart of the City, near the London Stock Exchange and the Bank of England.

Every day thousands of commuters arrive there from throughout London and surrounding dormitory towns, but the day after the attack on Wall Street numbers were down.

The same bleak faces and intense quiet was obvious on most tube lines as people rode into work.

"Everyone was just quiet, reading the news," said Michael Chisholm, who works at Swiss bank UBS.

Too upset

Most City workers BBC News Online spoke to said there was a strong desire for business to go ahead as usual, but it was simply not possible because too many people are in shock.


It is horrendous, absolutely horrendous

Susan Harrap, US law firm worker

The London Stock Exchange and other City institutions held one minute's silence at 12.45 GMT.

Susan Harrap, who works for a US law firm, said she expected many of her colleagues would spend the day trying to contact relatives and friends in America.

Work had stopped as news of the atrocities emerged on Tuesday as her American colleagues tried, and failed, to get international phone lines.

"Nothing was being done. Everyone was too upset," she said.

"We have got to wait today and see what the effect is... It is horrendous, absolutely horrendous."

Sheer shock

Even for those who have no such fears about those close to them, the shock of what happened on Wall Street means that trading is likely to subdued in other markets on Wednesday.


It's not so much the money as much as the sheer shock that will have an effect for a while

Guy Giblen, Bank of Scotland worker

"It's not so much the money as much as the sheer shock that will have an effect for a while," said Guy Giblen, who works in Bank of Scotland's corporate banking division.

"It's going to make people very aware of their own mortality."

Many dealers were stoic in their outlook.

"It is indeed business as usual," Richard Hunter, head of dealing services at NatWest Stockbrokers, told the BBC's World Business Report.

"We are expecting some intermittent interruptions. Our building is opposite the Bank of America building, which was cordoned off.

"In terms of markets itself, we have all our links up and running and we are going to continue to keep our chins up," he added.

No extra security

In London's other financial centre, Canary Wharf in the Docklands, itself the target of a terrorist attack in the past, building workers said they had not been told of any special security precautions, though they had seen more police on the street.

"The security is just the same as it is for any other day", said one builder, who did not wish to give his name.

Some Canary Wharf workers admitted to feeling more vulnerable in the wake of Tuesday's attack.

"Most people... feel that working in Canary Tower, if anyone is going to target our area, they are going to go for this tower," one city worker told the BBC's World Business Report.

A group of air conditioning fitters said their company had not told them to take any extra security measures.

Business meetings, meanwhile, appeared to be going ahead as normal as well.

Tim Dixon, who works for telecoms and web hosting firm Worldcom, was due to visit a US bank in the Docklands to talk about provisions for disaster recovery.

Sun Microsystem's David Hard, also on web-related business at Canary Wharf, said his customer had told him that business would go ahead as normal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
NatWest Stockbrokers' Richard Hunter
"We are going to continue to keep our chins up"
The BBC's Manuela Saragosa
"Staff were expected to turn up for work as usual"
The BBC's Alex Ritson
"Canary Wharf has become home to many London banks"

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