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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
US under attack: Your eyewitness accounts
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Thousands are feared dead after a series of devastating attacks targeting the USA's financial and military centres in New York and Washington
Were you near the scenes of these attacks?
Thank you for your e-mails. This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your eye witness accounts is published below.
I saw the second plane crash into the south tower, I saw both collapse, I saw people running and screaming for their life. Now I see desperation and solidarity but also anger all over; I can't breathe the air of my city, I can't drink the water of my city, and I can't understand how is possible that all this violence belong to human people.
Simon Cameron, UK
Physically shocked. I feel like crying. My heart goes out to the people of America.
All of North America is reeling. I am very anxious that we may see more violence. After all nobody has claimed responsibility yet...there may be more to this horrific plan. I truly hope that no ethnic group is demonised because of this.
Obviously, there was no political agenda behind this terror attack. The "activists" behind this act have one goal; to kill as many Americans as possible. There is a war going on against the West. I pray that Americans awaken to this fact.
May the victims of this attack rest in peace, and may their deaths be avenged before long.
I do feel sorry for the innocent but remember that Nelson Mandela was jailed for terrorism. The only difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist is whose side you are on. How far would go if your homeland was occupied by force?
I pray for all the families involved. I pray
also that people don't do stupid things
and we find who is responsible. Now's
not the time to panic and shoot willy-nilly. To the countries where this originated
(if not in the US) please I beg of you to
extricate those that helped.
Iain Black, Scotland
My sympathy goes to all those who will have suffered loss as a result of this terrible act of terrorism. With the grace of God those responsible will be brought to account for their actions.
I pray to God for everyone...this is an act of evil which shocked me.
There is NO, repeat NO excuse for these unspeakable events. I don't care from whose perspective. I pray for the helpless victims.
I work at New York University and was in a meeting when the first plane hit. We have watched in horror and disbelief as the buildings have fallen killing our friends and neighbours. Religion has been the cause of more death and destruction than any plague on this planet. When will enough be enough?
Laurel, United States
I was on a bus heading into the city from New Jersey when I heard the report on the radio. I was actually listening to shock jock Howard Stern and thought it was a joke. But looking out the window of the bus I saw debris falling from the Trade Center and knew the bitter truth. My mother works in World Trade Tower 2 and I spent the next hour and a half thinking she was dead. Thankfully she is okay.
People were jumping out of the windows of the WTC - then the buildings just collapsed into dust
I saw live pictures on BBC TV and it shocked me to think this could happen. It's an attack not just on the USA but all of us in the Free Western World. I hope the Americans get tough with whoever did this. My thoughts are with the USA people.
This is the most unfortunate and unwarranted incident I ever witnessed.
My condolences to the American people
over this shocking attack.
One should find out the root cause of what makes mankind so violent to attack others even at the cost of their own life.
I want to express my condolence to all people in US. It's the most terrible thing I have ever heard. God will help us to live through all these stupid acts.
A planned attack of this size has shocked the world not just the USA... countless numbers of innocent lives have been lost... No excuses, freedom, religious, civil rights, NOTHING can justify this.
I am deeply shocked. I hope our government will do everything possible to help the US recover from the tragedy and find the murderers responsible.
Absolutely disgusted, sickened, shocked and frightened. Why people have to harm innocent people for their beliefs I will never understand. I hope the American government can find whoever is responsible for the planning of this attack, although no amount of punishment can ever match the damage they have caused to so many people. We can't even begin to understand what the people affected by this can be feeling right now. I just hope that we can salvage some good from it and rid our planet of extremist terrorists. No cause is worth the death of innocent people.
Can we, as humans, not invest our time, money and efforts in building brotherhood all over world rather than the multilateral race to gain supremacy over others purely for selfish motives?
Absolutely unbelievable. While my heart at the moment goes out to those directly affected by the tragedy, I also shudder to think of the long-term repercussions of this disgraceful act.
Physically shocked. I feel like crying, my heart goes out to the people of America.
My condolence for the Americans.
I was watching BBC to see any new news on the situation in Afghanistan, when this news broke. The attack is senseless for all it did was kill innocent people, but I believe we shouldn't rush to conclusions as to who did this attack - we should all pray for the innocents who died in this shameful and cowardly attack.
I was told of this news by my friend when we chatted at 8pm local time - I thought he was joking. It is impossible to think the USA could be attacked in this manner.
Many of the buildings here in Los Angeles have been evacuated. America is shocked and in lock-down at the moment. This is the Pearl Harbor of our generation.
I just heard the news and I'm shocked. This is no military attack against a nation, this is an attack against people. Innocent people. I feel very sad for all families involved. Heads up, everyone...
What possesses somebody to carry out this sort of devastation. It can never be justified!
Shocked... what's wrong with mankind!
I've seen the pictures on BBC site and I say that it's a devil action, people who lives with the devil on mind, cause a normal person don't do things like this... my God, how things like this can happen...
My condolences to the American people.
I was shocked when I heard this. Why they do this. My condolences for the American people.
A friend of ours worked on the 102nd floor as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. His last words were, "We're getting out of here now," to his wife on the phone. He didn't make it. Left behind are two small children, a wife, a sister, parents and friends. President Bush must hunt down these people and disseminate the intricate network of terrorists. Our European allies must band together with us to fight this common, conscience-less foe.
As we got to around floor 50, a message came over the tannoy, telling us that there was an iscolated fire in tower 1, and we did not need to evacuate tower 2 - again, thank god we continued down, others didnt. As we reached around floor 38, the second plane hit - the whole building rocked, I guess like a building must shake in an earthquake - although we had no idea what had happened - we were, in fact blissfully ignorant as to what was going on - and because of that, other than momentarily, no one panicked - if we had known what I later saw on TV, I fear things may have been very different.
We escaped - we were very lucky - many many others, I know were not so lucky.
As we ran, the vivid picture of streams and streams of firefighters travelling towards the scene will stick in my mind, I think forever. Even then, we knew that as we were escaping, they were heading straight towards a total disaster area - and I think even then, we realised that many of those men and women would probabaly not return from the scene alive.
Only when we returned to Manhatten in the evening did we stop to see TV pictures - and only then did it really begin to sink in - the enormity of what had just happened.
I am lucky - others are not, and my heart goes out to the families of each and every person who has not made it through this most horrendous experience.
Nimesh Desai, Director of Information Technology at Work Life Benefits, California
My husband works in DC and immediately after the attack on the Pentagon everyone was sent home. The roads were utter chaos as cars tried to leave the city and everywhere people were rushing to get out. We scooped up our three children from their schools and went home. Home. A safe place? We hoped so. Then we sat crying. Watching with amazement and horror as the photographs and video flashed across the TV screen. We will never forget those few hours. Never. Thank you to rest of the world for caring and all the words of condolence. On behalf of all my American friends and their families .... thank you.
A friend has e-mailed me to tell me that his mate Spencer who works in New York took a friend for a drink at one of the bars at the top of the WTC building. Talk about fate. Just 24 hours later they were looking down 5th Avenue watching it all go on. Horrifically surreal.
My main concern is that this could really escalate and that we are in uncharted waters. It's going to be a stormy autumn.
Linda, Rockville, MD, USA
I was at work when I received an email on e-community from one of my friends who works in Baltimore. He said that the two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in NYC. Initially, I did not believe it. But when I could confirm the news on the internet I was shocked. Just then, one of my other friends who lives in Chicago came on-line and she told me that both the towers had collapsed. She was crying because she'd heard news (rumours probably) that the next target was Sears Towers in Chicago, and her husband works in its vicinity. I'd visited NYC earlier this year during the long weekend around the Memorial Day but did not go to the top of the WTC then, because the visibility was poor due to fog and rains. Hoping to head back to US in a few months I'd intended to visit the NYC and WTC again. Alas, my wish will never be fulfilled.
My girlfriend is from Hackensack, NJ. Her Uncle was in the towers when they were attacked. Luckily he made it out. I think most of America is in a state of shock right now, just knowing that this has and can happen on American soil.
Totally numb, I walked to work joining the hundreds - no - thousands already walking uptown, far enough away from the carnage but close enough to jump at the slightest sound. Everyone is numb, lost, devastated and now angry. I have friends who lost family members, other friends who witnessed what the news has not or cannot show us.
I suppose it is easy for someone to hope that the US govt uses restraint and caution in retaliating. I can only look at the photos of those jumping from the building to escape fire and others who flocked to the windows for air and clung to the building minutes before it collapsed and wish for swift justice. What would you want/expect if this happened in YOUR city?
JC, New York, NY
Unbelievably, the events of Tuesday hit terribly close to home for me. One of my best friends, whom I grew up with in New York, worked on the 81st floor of Tower 1, World Trade Center. I heard the news early on when the first thought running through our heads was that a jet had gone horribly off course and crashed into the World Trade Center.
I began to worry about her and whether or not they were evacuating both towers. Fifteen minutes later my heart sank as I saw the second plane destroy the top third of the other tower.
At this point the media didn't know what to report, and no-one in our office knew what to make of the footage on television. Between the radio coverage and the television coverage there were different conclusions being reached. Every channel covering a different angle of the destruction. We all stared at the screen, jaws gaping, too horrified to look away or even blink.
It all seemed so surreal. Something out of a movie, never anything that could really be happening. The worst kind of nightmare, one from which you can not wake. The faces of shock and amazement were all around me and I could imagine those faces all over the world.
We watched in absolute horror as the first tower came crashing to the ground slowly, almost methodically, like a controlled demolition. The feelings of denial, anxiety, aggravation, and utter helplessness were almost overwhelming. People rushed around the office with cell phones calling people they knew in New York, but no-one could get through. All circuits were busy and understandably so. Some 50,000 people work in the towers. Frantic families and friends, worried sick in a state of shock and dismay calling, calling, calling again.
The nationalistic inquiries of "Why us? Why now? Why there?" were being asked by reporters, witnesses and concerned people everywhere. Questions still unanswered a full day later.
The presidential speech was expected to bring an explanation or to convey a course of action for our country, but there was none he could give. When the second tower came down all I could think of was the idea that my best friend from childhood, one of my bridesmaids, whom I had spoken to just days earlier, was now gone forever. Tears of grief and anger streamed. The entire country stood still. Downtown buildings here in Tampa were closed down with SWAT team members placed on the rooftops. The airports were closed nationwide and MacDill Airforce base was shut down.
I left work early, traffic was slow, not a honking horn to be heard. I can only think that people were listening to the broadcasts on the radio. You had no choice, the coverage encompassed every airwave. All colleges were closed statewide and my fiance was there to comfort me. I've been calling my friend every hour with no luck so far. All circuits are still busy.
My mother finally got through to my aunt and uncle on Long Island and found out that my cousins, both police officers in New York, are still there helping with disaster relief. They are all right, but I can only imagine what they have been through these past 24 hours. The horror they have witnessed first hand and the difficult task of searching for friends and colleagues crushed in the aftermath.
I can only pray and hope that my good friend is all right. I will not be convinced of her health until I hear her voice and hear her story."
As a New Yorker who witnessed yesterday's devastation first hand it's still hard for me to talk about how the US should respond. I watched in horror as the North Tower fell, I breathed in the smoke, and I walked silently uptown crying with the thousands of other New Yorkers surrounding me in quiet disbelief. Today all of us in the city are still in shock.
K.M., Pentagon City, USA
Traffic was crawling along I-95 toward DC. The exit to the bridge was backed up because there was a fender bender accident on the bridge. I was listening to the terrible news from New York. I drive by the Pentagon every day to work and this was a beautiful morning. Finally we get to the bridge and pass the accident and traffic speeds up. I look behind me and see no cars. Curious(!) It wasn't until I got into the elevator of my building that somebody said they had seen black smoke at the Pentagon. I guess I just missed it.
This morning, I was really weary because I needed to get to school when I heard a loud bang. It sounded like thunder crashing but then when I looked at the sky, it was bright blue with great puffy gray clouds. I was also watching television when suddenly all the channels were wiped out. Only channels I could see was just channel 2. I went out to quickly go to school. When I was near my school, so many people were running at my side when I suddenly saw the twin towers causing tons of smoke to sink in the sky. I was horrified by the scene. I quickly went home just in case another plane was going to crash right on me!
Liliana Davalos, NYC, USA
I just got in from London late Monday night on UA 979 after completing my studies at City University Business School. I was planning on leaving for Nashville on Wednesday to help a friend with a business plan. In
preparation for my trip I decided to get an early start shopping in Lower
I was approaching West Street at 08:45 and was a lump of jelly with the first blast. It was just too terrible what followed too terrible.
Tom Tromans, Telford, Shropshire
After the morning's events yesterday I thought I had almost seen it all. I was in a windowless sealed server room lab at the core of the 8th floor, and in all the din of the machines all I felt were a couple judders. No fire alarms, no alarms of any kind (6 months ago there had been a fire on the escalators and no alarms then either). Since construction was going on and large bangs were common and I worked on. When I stepped out, the floor was empty (it was by now somewhere after 9am). I went to the lifts and they were not working, my heart started to race as I found the fire escape... it was filled with smoke and panicked people still trying to get out. Joining them we eventually made it into the atrium and onto the street outside.
Pierre Gentin, New York, NY
This is my niece Nora's story - Her normal stop on the subway is the World Trade Center. When she came up to street level there was a group of people
stopped still at the top of the stairs staring straight up at the first tower explosion. As she came out the second plane hit.
I live in Crystal City (Arlington)Virginia, right next to the Pentagon and drive to school in Washington DC. I had an early morning class yesterday and when I came out of it, there was something wrong. A hushed and nervous bustle on campus and a friend's phone call confirmed to me that the World Trade Center had been hit. I ran to his apartment near campus and watched in horror live on television as the Twin Towers started collapsing. Also on a split screen there was the Pentagon badly damaged and in flames with thick smoke oozing out of it over the DC skyline. For the rest of the day I was literally locked in Washington DC and couldn't go home. When I went home at around 10:30 pm there were military Hummers and armed police on every intersection in downtown DC. The thought of Washington DC being the safest place on earth was shattered by the events of the day.
It was then that we saw the second airliner flying in and crash into what was, minutes earlier, our office building. I cannot explain the sheer terror that held me frozen at that time. It was only the screams and rush of people around me that made me start running to get as far away from the buildings as possible.
Even then, we were not safe. As we made our way from downtown, we again heard the screams of people behind us. Looking back we saw a cloud of smoke just unfurl through all the streets of lower Manhattan as the first building collapsed. We continued on our way in a state of disbelief and for some reason, we looked back minutes later at the skyline of Manhattan which looked so incredibly different with just one WTC building standing. It was then that we saw the second WTC building shake slightly before just disintegrating before our eyes.
This morning, on the way to work, New York felt a very different city. This city is built on an air of confidence, bravado almost, but that air seemed to have disappeared. New York and it's people seem to have awaken to the fact that they are just as fallible as everyone else.
I am thankful that my wife, my friends and colleagues and I are safe today, but my heart goes out to all those people who have lost someone they know as a result of this atrocity.
M Elskamp, New York, USA
I was working at my office on 16th street, and a co-worker walked in and said the WTC was on fire. I thought it was just a minor floor fire, but she insisted I go out and see it. From 17th and Sixth Ave. I could the gaping hole in the side of the building. We still did not know if the plane crashed intentionally or not, and someone in the crowd speculate about the 1946 crash of an army plane into the empire state - an accident.
Then, low in the sky, I saw a plane coming, it had two engines on either side of the tail, and even from our vantage the plane looked large. I couldn't believe what I was seeing - I thought for a moment it was a news or rescue plane, silly as that sounds.
Then it hit, on the south side (I was looking from the north) and a ball of flames twenty stories high went up. It looked like a "movie" but most everyone in the crowd was aware how many people worked there and a sickening feeling came to my stomach.
An icon of our city vanished before my eyes- it would be like watching the houses of parliament or big ben collapse, except there were 10,000 people trapped in them.
This morning, there is still a dust cloud over downtown - last night at sunset, it looked like any other cloud, the quietness in the city this morning was absolutely eerie.
I walked home and I had to cross Times Square to get there. Literally thousands of people were standing still, watching the big screens located there, loaded of news and images. And there was a sense of unreality, surrealism. It was but then it wasn't happening. You were an extra on a Stephen Spielberg movie rolling in Manhattan.
People fighting with their cellulars to be able to reach a loved one, some were under a nervous breakdown right in the middle of 7th Avenue, on the ground, a guy walking by my side hitting his head against the walls...
Everyone was crying, EVERYONE, even tourists whom you could tell they were not even understanding the words, they were just shocked by the images.
A Universal Mourning Day should have to be today.
I live in Brooklyn NY., but work in Manhattan. Yesterday my boss let me have a day off, because of her family event (funeral). I feel it's been some kind of FAITH that I didn't go to Manhattan in the morning - God knows what could have happened to me. I looked out my window as soon as I heard on TV, what going on. The only thing I could see was a cloud of smoke on a clear sky - I come from Poland so to me it looked like..the smoke from concentration camp during WWII. I was shaking and absolutely panicked. I found a lot of burned pieces of documents on the street - and I thought of the people who were once holding those papers. Right now I'm afraid what is going to happen next. I feel like we are not being fully informed about the situation - what'going on with the hijacked planes - are the 3 of them still missing? We heard of 8 planes in total that were hijacked. I know that right now I can't go back to my country because borders are being closed.
I'm really afraid.
By the time I went to uni this morning, I knew only this: that the NY
office of Aon Reinsurance - for which my Dad works here in Australia -
and several other of its business arms, was somewhere around the 100th
floor of one of the two World Trade Centre Towers. Not knowing which, it
was fairly certain that everyone had been killed, as that was around the
level where both towers were hit by the hijacked planes.
There is good news however. When I got home at 1pm I found out the following:
At opening in Sydney today, there was only a message from the head
office in the US saying that of the 1100 Aon employees situated on the
88th - 103rd floors of World Trade Centre's B Tower, only 150 had so far
been accounted for. As you can imagine, the description of the
atmosphere in the office (my dad's off work this week doing some
redecorating), was that it was rather like a morgue...
All of downtown looks like a Third World Country covered with dirty snow. Apparently all of the cases that are coming to the hospital are all or nothing - scrapes or trauma. They have closed down First Avenue so the ambulances can have easy access to the ER.
I know I am not in the safest city to be in right now, but I am counting my blessings because it just as easily could have been me. For the rest of you please be careful, but do not let this attack make you live in fear. That is what they want and I'll be damned if I am gonna let them have any control over me whatsoever.
A friend of mine was at work on Long Island. A woman who works with him got a call from her husband who works on the top floor of one of the twin towers. He called to say good-bye. He knew he was not going to get out. The woman lost it.
My friend from Fountain Hills, Arizona called. She had two cousins on the 102nd floor. They made it out. My entire office made it out. Michele from my office was down getting coffee and saw the second plane hit the building. She ran to the nearest exit and got on the ferry to New Jersey. She made it out safe.
I made it home safe. I was hit with debris but nothing too serious.
I fell and was trampled. My legs are cut up, my back is in severe pain and my feet are ripped up. But I am home and safe.
Thousands of civilians died here in NYC and thousands more are injured. One of the missing is my cousin, maybe dead and buried in the rubble of one of the towers. I do not want diplomacy, I don't want to talk, I do not care about making friends. Find those responsible and torture them in them in the cruellest way.
A few images I recall: shoes on the streets, lost in the rush; people huddled around vans and cars listening to the radio and fighter jets flying over Manhattan.
My partner Calum Forrest works for an investment bank. I am currently job hunting. I worked as a lawyer in the UK and have recently taken the New York Bar exam to qualify as an attorney here.
It has been a long and exhausting day mostly spent responding to calls from UK friends and family and checking that my NY friends are all OK. After both towers collapsed, there was a great wave of people that I could see heading north on both 4th Ave and Broadway. Many were stunned and sitting on the pavements around Union Square (14th St).
Union Square is normally extremely busy with many people, tourists and many 24 hour shops. Almost all the shops are shut. The banks were closed all day. Now the streets are dark and quiet. The view of the skyline from my apartment has totally changed. The whole of the financial district is dark and there is just darkness where the two huge towers that dominated my view used to be. As I am new to New York, I had not yet tired of the view and only last night was admiring it and thinking how wonderful it was.
I cannot bear to think of the people that jumped or contemplated jumping
before the towers collapsed. It is all still too much to take in. I keep
looking out of the window almost hoping that the towers will reappear. The
whole day has had a dreamlike quality to it and my thoughts are with the
familys whose loved ones are not coming home.
Like the naive onlooker I ran closer to see what I thought was an horrific accident as I saw one of the trade centre buildings burning from the upper floors. Thousands of people stood in disbelief as they saw the pinnacle of American Capitalism burn before their eyes.
It was not till I saw more than 6 people jump to their deaths that I knew this was no picture to photograph or to remember.
Then I heard a second explosion and the sound and heat was fierce. People looked in awe, which soon turned to panic as the glass and debris rained down. People hiding in doorways or under vehicles, but I just ran amidst the blood stained streets and the chaos.
What was unbelievable was that people still stayed to behold the spectacle. Me and my friend jumped on the No. 6 train uptown which probably saved our lives.
This is a true account from an honest Leeds lad that would be happy to be back on home soil.
God bless to those that perished,
I am British and live in New York. I was working in Midtown Manhattan , at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, when the hijacked planes hit the WTC at 8.42 this morning. We evacuated from my work building a couple of hours later. I looked down the street and witnessed the financial hub of America collapse like house of cards.
It was a horrific incident, it is cliché but it was truly like something out of "Independence Day". Everyone was in shock! It was either hysterically noisy in Manhattan or this quiet surreal atmosphere. I got on a train to Long Island around 5 pm and 4 guys who worked in the World Trade Center were travelling with me. One had gone for breakfast at 8.30am, 12 minutes before this first plane crashed, the other had decided to come into work late. He used to reside on the 77th floor and believed his whole office staff are dead. People I know work in the building, the hope is they are finding victims out of the thousands trapped, who are alive. I pray for their families.
I work a block from the World Trade Centre. When I exited off the train about 8:55 AM I saw chaos in the street with crowds of people across from where I come out from the under ground. I looked up and saw black smoke with paper in the sky. I crossed and asked a pedestrian what happened. They replied a plane crashed into one of the towers. As I proceeded south to my place of work I saw flames from the north tower. As I walked further south I saw the hole in the north side of the tower where the plane hit. At first I believed it was an accident I went into my building and when I reached my floor of work there was another explosion. I had no idea that another plane hit the other tower.
Eventually the building was evacuated and I travelled 3 blocks from the towers. On my travels there was debris a block away and an engine from the plane was on the corner. A person was on the side of the road cut from debris and being attended to. On the following corner about 3 or 4 blocks from the World Trade Centre I saw a person jump from just below the fire line on the north tower. I then waited in line to make a phone call, but the lines were jammed I tried several times and made it through.
After the phone call I went back to the corner when the south tower collapsed. It sounded like an earthquake rumble (NOT an explosion as reported by the media) as I and other people ran to get away from the smoke and ash that travelled from the collapse. I made it about 15 to 20 blocks away as the second tower collapsed. I asked police officers If I could get across the bridge the response was, "All bridges are closed you must travel North" Eventually I travelled across a bridge and made it to my final destination around 2:30 in the afternoon.
I am very horrified and distraught on what happened. I must praise all the New York citizens for pulling together and helping each other out in this crisis and I pray for all of the people that lost their lives.
Dan Greenwald, New York, USA
I was on a subway that got into
WTC at 9am, down in the WTC concourse nobody really knew what was going on upstairs but then gates went down between the concourse and the main shopping area and we were locked in so we all had to exit wherever we
could and when we got outside the 2nd plane crashed right over our heads with debris falling everywhere...it was chaos...I started running and luckily didn't get hurt...
I was driving west on the Long Island Expressway toward Manhattan. By Flushing, I could see both towers burning off in the distance. Twenty minutes later, I pulled over by Maurice Avenue and walked onto a footbridge over the Expressway, where I had a clear view of the entire Manhattan skyline. I could see only one tower standing at this point, surrounded by an immense cloud of black smoke. I've never seen anything like this. It's a sight I'll never forget.
Hours later, while walking through downtown Brooklyn, I picked up a charred piece of paper lying on the sidewalk. It appeared to have the markings of an insurance company. Then I realised it had blown in from what was the World Trade Center, about three miles away.
I was just leaving my apartment when my neighbour stopped me and said "Have you heard about the WTC? It's been hit by a plane. You can watch it from the roof". I went upstairs and I saw that surreal image: a hole spanning for five floors in the centre top of Tower 1, and a huge cloud of black smoke. I live in the East Village, and the view from there was perfect. I went back to get my camera. When I was back in the roof I saw just before my eyes the explosion on Tower 2. I didn't see the plane, nor did any of the other guys on the roof. We speculated for a few minutes. The only thing we could imagine was on of the wings of the first plane hitting the other tower and provoking the explosion, but that was very unlikely. Finally one of the people on the roof said: "The radio is saying that there was a second plane." We suddenly got scared, and I could see tears on the eyes of my neighbour: his friend worked at the WTC. You can see original footage at http://www.cruzate.org/nyhell/
Debris and ashes were falling everywhere as well as burning pieces of rubble. I got out of the station and ran, praying the debris wouldn't hit me. I got far enough away to stop and look back at the burning building. It was a horrific site. People were jumping from the top floors, smoke was billowing into the air....it was like something Hollywood would produce...it was unreal. And then another plane thundered above the city, turned abruptly and collided with Tower 2. The amount of debris and smoke and fire generated by that explosion were unbelievable. People were running for their lives.
About 40 minutes later, standing by the Brooklyn Bridge, I felt the crowd surge toward the bridge screaming, "Dear God, it's falling down!". Smoke and ashes just enveloped the bridge completely and it was hard to see two feet in front of you. When I got into Brooklyn and looked back, the second tower had already fallen down and there was just such an emptiness in Manhattan and such panic, it was nerveracking. There was a massive evacuation of the city and as far as the eye could see, masses of people were making their way either uptown or out of the city by the bridges. Unfortunately, the actual devastation and aftermath to come, will be more terrible than this country has ever experienced.
I live in SoHo/Greenwich Village and have a clear view of the towers from my street. I walked out to the street about three minutes after the second plane hit. At that time, people hadn't really spilled out onto the streets, and those walking around were just frozen. Watching the buildings burn was incredibly surreal, and watching the towers collapse was haunting.
I made the long walk to a news organisation where I work in midtown: on the way the images were very odd and frightening: long lines at pay phones, ashen businessmen calling wives, crowds gathering at churches, hundreds of doctors waiting outside the hospitals, ambulances covered in plaster rushing uptown, people explaining their near misses to strangers.
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