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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
The survivors' stories
The eye witness accounts and the stories of those who survived the terror attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington record the horror of September 11th.
Those who were near the scenes of these attacks and those who managed to escape sent moving accounts to BBC News Online in their thousands. Within six days the Talking Point section had received 75,000 emails - many just reacting in horror to the television pictures they had seen.
Read the powerful accounts of those most directly involved following the terrifying attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon below.
I was in shock ... it was not real ... I rushed back to the friary and went to Fr. Mychal Judge's room ( a fire department chaplain ) and alerted him to what I thought was an accident. He got into his fire gear and was off before his pager sounded.
Fr. Mychal died in the collapse along with 200 of his brother firefighters. He came back home escorted by some of his firefighters wrapped in sheets and was placed in the 1st Street firehouse.
The friars gathered about and we prayed over Mychal late in the afternoon. His brother firefighters, soot covered, were at his side in tears.
My life has been forever changed today, as have been the lives of all New Yorkers and Americans. I will say my prayers for all who have died and as I prepare for bed I ask God to bless Fr. Mychal ... he died among those whom he loved and served so well.
I work with a bonds trader on the 50th floor and I was out getting coffee for my friends when I turned around and saw the plane heading towards the building.
This was the first airplane and when I tried to get back into the building I couldn't because security had it blockaded it. Then I saw the second plane coming. It crashed brutally into the building and I saw people jumping out of windows before the cloud of dust covered me as I took cover underneath an upturned car.
The dust was all encompassing and I could see nothing but I could hear the cries of injured people echoing from the collapsed rubble. The worst was yet to come as the buildings collapsed one after another.
I tried to get away from the larger dust cloud but suddenly I was engulfed in a sea of dust and I couldn't breathe. People were running everywhere and I had to fight to get out. It was like complete madness as I escaped. The fire department rushed to the site and they treated me for my 2nd degree burns.
This experience has scarred me for life and I only hope that the people who did this will be punished. To my colleagues and everyone that died, R.I.P.
I would just like to know if my aunt, cousins and their families are OK. They are Elsie Tuck, Quentin Tuck and Duncan Tuck. Please can anyone help?
I was forwarded this e-mail from a friend. It contains a first hand account of events as this person saw it.
My doorman looked white as a ghost. I asked him if a car bomb went off or something and he replied that he thought so and that it must have been a meat truck or something because there was meat all over the place. I walked out into the street and he was right - there were chunks of flesh all over the place but I thought it was just regular meat like he said.
I then walked north to the corner and there was a human hand on the ground. Someone quickly threw a coat over it so it couldn't be seen. I then crossed the street and was looking around at all the cars around that were wrecked and all. Then Ari called my cell phone and I told him, "a car bomb just went off at the World Trade Center." "No, a plane hit the building!"
I looked up and saw that the north tower had a big burning hole at the top of it. A security guard was telling people to walk south, so I headed into Battery Park. At this point there were a mob of people in the streets, but everyone was calm. All of a sudden, I heard the sound of an airplane and looked up to see a commercial jet slam right into the south tower. I was probably only 200 yards from the base of the building and watched the plane come in, hit the building and explode.
All of a sudden it was like a movie scene, where everyone just turned and were literally running for their lives. I ran over to the western edge of Manhattan. I could hardly believe what I had just seen, planes just falling out of the sky.
At this point, I tried to figure out what to do. I never really took my eyes off the towers and after about 15 minutes I saw about 10 people jump from the top of the building. At least 2 of them were on fire.
It looked like a demolition explosion because it blew out in all directions and the top quarter just started to fall downward. Everyone was pretty much paralysed for a second or two as we watched it fall and then I think we all realized that a massive cloud of debris and/or building was heading our way. People were jumping into the river.
I sprinted to the closest building I saw which turned out to be a restaurant with a large glass wall facing the river. I was pressed against the glass with a few other people when the cloud of debris finally came over the building. The air quickly got pretty thick full of ash. I took my shirt off and wrapped it around my face and head and started banging on the window with 2 other guys trying to figure out how to get into the restaurant. I could barely breathe let alone see.
It was pitch black and even with just squinting, my eyes were on fire. On the other side of the glass a hand pointed to my left, and we all kind of felt our way along the building to the door. Inside the restaurant, tablecloths were being ripped off tables and glasses of water that had been sitting on the tables were being passed around. I grabbed a pitcher of water and tried to help all the people that were piling through the door to wet their eyes.
Same story all over again - dark as night. When the dust settled from this one, the police shuffled everyone out and we all walked to the southern tip of Manhattan. I got onto a police tugboat. There were so many people piled on the boat that I could hardly believe that it was still floating.
As the boat pulled away from Manhattan, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It looked like the entire downtown section of Manhattan was on fire, because there was just a massive stream of smoke and debris coming off it.
I got through to my dad on my cell phone and he told me a friend of the family had a house relatively close by. I'm here now and am writing this email in their kitchen, watching it all on the TV. I'm just going to spend the night here and then figure out what the next step is tomorrow. I'll talk to all of you guys soon, thank god.
My name is Adam Mayblum. I am alive today. I am committing this to "paper" so I never forget. So we never forget..
My office was on the 87th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Most of my associates were in by 8:30am. We were standing around, checking emails, getting set for the day, when the first plane hit just a few storeys above us. I must stress that we did not know that it was a plane.
Smoke started billowing in through the holes in the ceiling. I believe there were 13 of us. We did not panic. I can only assume that we thought that the worst was over. The building was standing and we were shaken but alive. We checked the halls. The smoke was thick and white and did not smell like I imagined smoke should smell - not like your BBQ or your fireplace or even a bonfire.
The phones were working. I called my nanny at home and told her to page my wife, tell her that a bomb went off, I was ok, and on my way out. I took off my tee-shirt and ripped it into 3 pieces, soaked it in water and gave 2 pieces to my friends. Tied my piece around my face to act as an air filter. And we all started moving to the staircase. One of my dearest friends said that he was staying until the police or firemen came to get him.
In the halls there were tiny fires and sparks. The ceiling had collapsed in the men's bathroom. It was gone along with anyone who may have been in there. We did not go in to look.
We proceeded to the 78th floor where we had to change over to a different stairwell. I expected to see more people. There were some 50 to 60 no more. Not enough.
A brave man was fighting a fire with the emergency hose. I stopped with two friends to make sure that everyone from our office was accounted for. We ushered them and confused people into the stairwell. In retrospect, I recall seeing Harry, my head trader, doing the same several yards behind me. I am only 35. I have known him for over 14 years.
I called my friend Angel in San Francisco. I knew he would be watching. He told me to get out that there was another plane on its way. I did not know what he was talking about. By now the second plane had struck Tower 2. We were so deep into the middle of our building that we did not hear or feel anything. We had no idea what was really going on.
We kept making way for wounded to go down ahead of us. No one seemed seriously wounded. Everyone cooperated. Everyone was a hero. On the 53rd floor we came across a very heavyset man sitting on the stairs. He needed help. My friend and I told him he could lean on us. He hesitated, I don't know why. He asked us to send help. I told him he was on the 53rd floor in Stairwell A and that's what I would tell the rescue workers. He said okay and we left.
On the 33rd floor I spoke with a man who somehow knew most of the details. He said 2 small planes hit the building. We now knew that it was not a bomb and there were potentially more planes coming. We understood.
On the 3rd floor the lights went out and we heard felt this rumbling coming towards us from above. It was 10am now and that was Tower 2 collapsing next door. We did not know that.
Someone had a flashlight. We headed down a dark and cramped corridor to an exit. We could not see at all. I said everyone should place a hand on the shoulder of the person in front and call out if they hit an obstacle so others would know to avoid it. We reached another stairwell and saw a female officer emerge soaking wet and covered in soot. She said we could not go that way it was blocked. There was water everywhere. She stayed behind instructing people to do that. I do not know what happened to her.
We emerged into an enormous room. It was light but filled with smoke. It was the second floor. We were ushered out into the courtyard, where the fountain used to be. There was at least five inches of this grey pasty, dusty, drywall soot on the ground as well as a thickness of it in the air. Twisted steel and wires. I heard there were bodies and body parts as well, but I did not look. It was bad enough.
We moved out to the street. The odd thing is that there were very few rescue workers around. They all must have been trapped under the debris when Tower 2 fell.
It was just my friend Kern and I now. We were hugging but sad. We felt certain that most of our friends ahead of us died and we knew no one behind us.
Several blocks away we stopped and looked up. Our building, exactly where our office is (was), was engulfed in flame and smoke. A postal worker said that Tower 2 had fallen down. I looked again and sure enough it was gone.
We were mourning our lost friends, particularly the one who stayed in the office as we were now sure that he had perished. We stopped to hear the President speaking on the radio. My phone rang. It was my wife. I think I fell to my knees crying when I heard her voice. Then she told me the most incredible thing. My partner who had stayed behind had called her. He was alive and well. We started jumping and hugging and shouting. When I got home I cried on my son and held my wife until I fell asleep.
As it turns out my partner, the one who I thought had stayed behind was behind us with Harry Ramos, our head trader. This is now second hand information.
Victor said he could no longer move. They offered to have him lean on them. He said he couldn't do it. Harry told my partner to go ahead of them. Harry had once had a heart attack and was worried about this man's heart. It was his nature to be this way. He was/is one of the kindest people I know. He would not leave a man behind.
My partner went ahead and made it out. He said he was out maybe 10 minutes before the building came down. This means that Harry had maybe 25 minutes to move Victor 36 floors. I fear that Harry is lost. However, a short while ago I heard that he may be alive. Apparently there is a website with survivor names on it and his name appears there. Unfortunately, Ramos is not an uncommon surname in New York. Pray for him and all those like him.
With regards to the firemen heading upstairs, I realize that they were going up anyway. But, it hurts to know that I may have made them move quicker to find my friend. Rationally, I know this is not true and that I am not the responsible one. The responsible ones are in hiding somewhere on this planet and damn them for making me feel like this.
Today the images that people around the world equate with power and democracy are gone but "America" is not an image it is a concept. That concept is only strengthened by our pulling together as a team. If you want to make us stronger, attack and we unite. This is the ultimate failure of terrorism against The United States and the ultimate price we pay to be free. The very moment the first plane was hijacked, democracy won.
The flames were so massive and so strong they couldn't get near them. All they had was the gap in the window next to them, blown out from the blast. They held hands and jumped.
I can't believe it. It's hard to take. People all around me are the exact same as the people in that building. They literally are like us. The only thing that separates them is that they were in those buildings and we weren't.
There was a news recap last night showed a man in a black suit step back and drop from the building 80 floors up. And then a woman in a red jacket, with hair like your mum wears it. Imagine a friend of your mum's who you know choosing to jump out of a window instead of being consumed by 1000 degree flames, three storeys high.
I saw the skyline today also. It's barren in comparison to the usual day. There is still smoke, and thousands of dead to be recovered. You can just feel the loss.
There are two New York's right now. The one behind the police line and the one in front. The one in front is going about its life and doing its business but it is solely concerned and continuously conscious of what is going on behind the police line which we only find out about through the media. Everyone is aware you know, but the sun is shining, and we have to pay the bills.
This is a lot to comprehend. People I know knew people in that building. They don't know if they are ok or not. Firemen are trapped or dead, as too are police.
Still, it doesn't feel like a drama. Not over the top and dramatic. It feels much more, like a big silence in you, a big silence and sorrow for the whole stupid thing.
Well...I'm experiencing the least of it. A lot of people are going through hell, so I'll shut it.
A man stood next to me yesterday and said what we are seeing is the book of revelations being played out to us before our very eyes. I had a clear mind and produced not a single thought. I'm sick of the theology that leads to this kind of thing. Those were people like you or me. Very real, very human. They set up an ice rink on the piers close to where I work as a morgue. And all the sirens you hear, for the first time, you know where they are going.
It's just really scary... I could see everything from my apartment... everything.
I went for a walk on Tuesday to get outside at around 7pm and all you could smell was smoke, all you could see was smoke clouds and what you would think were birds actually were pieces of paper from the buildings which the wind took with the smoke above my neighbourhood - landing at my feet - a burned FedEx envelope, a few pieces of fax paper.. an all too vivid reminder that a few hours ago these papers were inside of a building next to people whose fate is now uncertain..
There were jet fighters flying overhead - which for each time I heard one, I would get a little nervous thinking that something else terrible was going to happen.. it's so weird... I can't explain it.
It's a very uneasy feeling here in New York. I go to bed each night and hear of something new; last thing I heard was there was a bomb threat on the Empire State Building Wednesday night (this has now subsided).. Thursday I was evacuated from work with a bomb threat... Honestly, what are people thinking? What kind of heartless people want to take advantage of the uneasiness of others by bluffing and building off of other's fears?
For me, I think the worst was on the very crowded subway this morning (which they almost didn't run because of the fear of ground vibrations to cause more collapses). We had to skip the stops which were below the WTC.. and the wost of it was that because of the subway traffic we were stalled there for like 15 minutes.. it was so scary.. honestly, I just wanted the subway to move because the thought of what was going on above ground was just... unbelievable.
Everyone is checking in on everyone else making sure that we're all ok, but I think the next few days are going to be so strange.
Thank you universally for all your thoughts of care and concern towards New York.
"I'm fine..they missed me by about 30 yards. I heard about the NY WTC aircraft hit(s) about 9:15am in my Pentagon office, about 9:35am we heard a loud explosion and the office shook.We had just moved into new spaces on the top floor of the Pentagon facing Arlington Cemetery. I figured two hits in NY meant two Pentagon hits and the follow-up would likely be meant to cause greater casualties,we had no idea at the time it was an airplane impact.. I thought it a bomb/rocket of some sort.
We cleared out of our office and most folks ran for the building exits. I followed some Army guys going in back after their comrades....we pulled our t-shirts off and wrapped them around out noses....lots of smoke and confusion. One burn victim told me a room where people were injured and left behind .... I wrote it on my arm and tried to get back there. No way....fire and smoke too heavy.
I left the fire as there was nothing to do and didn't want to become a victim from collapsing building and went to health clinIc and tried to help out there getting supplies/stretchers back into inner Pentagon courtyard.We were a mix of Generals and Privates, all services.... but I can't think of a better group to respond to a crisis. All were cool and calm..many of the folks had been under fire over the past 30 years.
We were hampered by continued reports of another inbound suicide plane...we were warned several times to take cover or go to the center of the courtyard away from the building. Fortunately I got a cell line out and got word I was OK.
My office is intact but the
corridor outside is melted...we may not go back for a long time.
My name is Zarina Ahmed and please can you tell my family and friends in London and Manchester that I am safe and keep in touch. Mum, Dad, I love you all.
Susan, Colts Neck, NJ, USA
My normal commute involves taking the PATH train from New Jersey to WTC in New York. I reached WTC around 8:57 am and as soon as the doors opened we were engulfed by some chemical that smelled like kerosene and smoke. Not realizing what had happened I walked up the escalator to the ground floor of the WTC where Police officers were directing all commuters to leave the building as soon as possible. Emerging outside of WTC, it looked like a bomb had exploded because there was debris everywhere, paper, fibre-glass insulation and numerous other office stationary material. In my mind I recalled the bombing from 1993 and thought this was something very similar. I started to run away from the building, a few blocks away I heard a very large explosion, not unlike a thunder from a lighting striking at close quarters. By the time I looked up there was a massive black plume of smoke above WTC 2. By then both towers were on fire and my only thought was "Please God, let these people find their way to safety".
I watched the whole incident from the roof of a tall building on the east river in Brooklyn. I had noticed the awful scene unfolding as I walked to work along Kent Avenue. I ran up to my building and my boss and I watched the WTC crumble. We were alone at that point and had no information source. It was confusing. Tuesday was such a crisp clear morning, the sky was a dazzling blue - it all looked so unreal. I looked to my left and watched thousands of people cross the Williamsburg bridge. I looked to my right towards Union Square where my fiancee was out on the street (I would later learn) panicking, but safe, thank God.
I lost nobody and I feel so blessed but so guilty. So many people died and so many freedoms will be signed away while the US comes to term with this. It's a new week now but still the city feels like it is slumbering in the same nightmare, unable to wake up.
Jeannine B, United Kingdom/USA
Our three young children are trying to grasp the past week's events. I am deeply encouraged after reading the many posts from those all over the world who are shocked and offering their condolences. Their response will help me relay to my children the hope raised from the hearts of all citizens no matter where they are. Thank you - my heart has more peace.
At that time people were still very calm and were evacuating in an orderly fashion. We had reached either the 51st or the 50th floor when we heard a huge explosion, which shook the building like crazy! I grabbed hold of the stair well to steady myself when a woman who had fallen from a flight up hit me in the back and sent me down a flight of stairs with her on my back. I then tried to stand up but the building was still shaking and the lights were flickering on and off. It was terrifying!
Then the building began to sink - that's the only way I can describe it. The floor began to lower under your feet and all I could think about was that it would crack open and I would fall hundreds of feet to my death! Until this moment no one knew what was going on, but no one was really scared yet. Everyone thought it was only taking place in 1 WTC, the other tower. Not in our tower. Once this happened it turned into pandemonium!
People began screaming and crying and praying out loud for God to help them. After what seemed like an eternity the building settled and the evacuation began in earnest. Except people were panicking and a stampede started and they were running each other down. Myself and the Philippine woman who had landed on me and a few other people waited for the initial surge to subside and then we began to move out again.
After this things began to speed up; somewhere along the route and between the 44th and 34th floors I lost sight of the little Philippine woman who had been hanging on to my arm for dear life. She was there one moment and gone the next. This really bothers me a lot.
Somewhere around the 25th floor we began to smell jet fuel and a lot of it. I have asthma and it became difficult to breathe but by the 15th fl, it became unbearable due to the amount of smoke that was now entering the stairwell. So I took off my shirt and wrapped it around my head to help me breathe and it worked, but my eyes were stinging real bad.
After what seemed like an eternity, but actually took about 40mins, we saw our first glimpse of the outside world. We were met by the FBI and NYPD detectives who were asking if anyone needed medical attention and then yelling at you to keep moving towards the escalators. (I don't think that those FBI and NYPD guys got out.)
I remember that when we were about to get on the escalators you could look out the windows onto the square between the two buildings and see the large ball sculpture and the fountain and lots and lots of bodies. Some that were still falling to the ground and some still smouldering. I will never forget that sight as long as I live.
After we got down to the Plaza level you were directed out to either Liberty Street (and probably death because that's where the building collapsed) or towards the E train on the other side of the platform. That's where I went. Everyone I was still with from Morgan Stanley at that time split up and I don't know if they all survived.
When I got to the E train the cops were telling you to run through the gate and get out the other end onto to street level. Right by the stairs was an older woman being helped by a group of EMT's - she seemed to be having chest pains. I don't believe they made it out alive.
The streets were absolutely crazy. FBI inspectors were taking measurements of what looked like a piece of one of the plane's wings. People were screaming and running everywhere. Emergency vehicles everywhere you looked and I was about to take my first look at the two towers. I could not believe what I was seeing - both buildings were on fire with flames shooting out of them about a 100ft high. Huge plumes of thick black smoke were billowing out of them and when I looked at tower 2 you could still see the tail end of the jet hanging out of the building.
At that point I knew that this wasn't over and my instincts took over again and I ran to the 6 train on the eastern side of city hall. I ran downstairs and jumped onto the first train that pulled up. At that moment 2 WTC began to fall to the ground with 1 WTC falling within moments of tower 2. I didn't stop running until I got back to Queens. I ran the 15 blocks to my apartment were I sat in shock watching the replay of the buildings falling.
This was the saddest moment of my life. I began to cry and started to call my loved ones. I also called my boss and had a long talk with him about what happened. He told me that I had called him 11 mins. exactly before the second plane had crashed into my building, building 2.
It's now Friday and I am still in shock. I can't believe that I made it out alive, with only minor injuries. I have also not slept more than 10 hrs since the incident due to nightmares.
This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and I will never forget this so long as I live. I have still been unable to locate a few associates of mine who worked on the floor with me and I pray that they made it out alive.
My prayers are with all the survivors and families of those lost in this cowardly act of violence. May God grant us the strength and courage to find those responsible for this and bring them to justice and may the world never forget what has happened on this day so that it may never happen again to ANYONE!!!
I saw it on the way to work going to Queens. I was a passenger in my co-workers SUV. I said: "Look, one of the World Trade Towers is on fire, it's got to be a bomb or something!".
Rob said, "Get out of here that's just a dark cloud behind the building". We put on the radio and all stations reported a small to medium sized aircraft has crashed into the building.
I had a clear view but from an elevated roadway 8 miles away. I must tell you that that second plane's explosion resulted in a mushroom cloud twice the height of the tower. Seeing that made me worry very seriously that some sort of nuclear "suitcase bomb" went off. I frantically tried to cell-phone my brother who works at Goldman Sacks a few blocks south of the towers but I could not get through via cellphone. I then heard that a second plane crashed removing all "accident talk" from our discussion.
I must have been in shock. I snapped a picture, walked in to the cafe below my office and got my morning cup of coffee. We watched from my office building until we were evacuated just as the first tower collapsed. Being shoved onto the street amidst the chaos is when it really started to sink in. I saw the second tower collapse. I don't know which was more horrifying: watching those thousands of tiny windows disappearing or seeing people running around on the street, wailing, choking and losing their minds. Some people even running towards the WTC. So many people were in those two buildings, and so many of their friends and family had to stand there and watch them explode and crumble. May your hearts be with them.
I was at our office on King Street about 20 blocks north of the WTC when the first plane hit. I went onto the corner of 7th Avenue and King and watched with crowds of workers as the smoke bellowed out of the north tower. Several Fire Engines, Ambulances and Police cars sped past and would have been amongst the first emergency vehicles on the scene.
At 9:50 I drove to collect my boss from East 10th Street. I was passed by 2 Fire Department sports utility vehicles which had smoke flowing behind them. When I arrived at 10th Street I saw the south tower had vanished into a huge cloud of dust. I returned to King Street and ran to the corner of 7th only to see a gigantic ball of smoke and dust cover where the north tower once stood.
At 10:30am I walked uptown to find my girlfriend and passed the St Vincent¿s Hospital which was already closed off to non-emergency traffic and later received some of the casualties. I was stuck in Manhattan overnight as I couldn't return to Brooklyn because of transport closures and all the debris that had gone east into my neighbourhood.
Last night, my girlfriend and I went to Brooklyn Heights and watched the southern part of Manhattan. The light from the floodlights lit the dust and smoke clouds, and the skyline without the twin towers seemed unreal.
I was able to contact my parents and friends very quickly so they didn't have to worry too long. I feel very sorry for anyone who still has someone they know missing.
We were told everything is being shut down and just go. We evacuated the building. I walked 8 blocks to the port authority and was told buses were closed until further notice. I figured I would sit and wait till they opened. Seconds later they announced evacuation of the terminals. Everybody out. I rushed out of the bus terminal and walked to the streets and hopped a bus for the Ferry. The bus got stuck in gridlock. I got out of that bus and walked to the ferry. That seemed to be the only transportation available to cross back over to jersey. A huge LONG, LONG, LONG line (Javits Center to Battery Park) but luckily it moved fast. I got on the Ferry and went back to NJ.
What a horrible sight to see, as you are crossing over. Both Buildings were down and debris flying everywhere. But my nightmare didn't end there; I was stuck at Lincoln Harbor for hours. No buses or anything was available. I called home, decided maybe someone could just pick me up. But, All roads were closed. So we sat and sat for hours at the Lincoln Harbor. So many people hitching rides, walking, calling on cells and crying - unbelievable!!! Finally around 5:00pm a ferry bus came and picked us up and took us to this bus terminal, which took me to a bus to get home. I got home around 6:00pm. Lots of helicopters are still flying around here.
Anyways, my mom was very relieved when she saw me walk in the door. Even though I called her from the city to let her know I was OK, she was still very panicked. I felt so bad for her, she had been thru enough already and she didn't need this. But enough with my nightmare the REAL nightmare is with the people who were actually there, in the buildings, and All the victims and their families.
This was a Huge Tragedy!!! Please take a minute or two and say some prayers for EVERYONE! So Much was LOST that day. I really still can't believe these buildings are gone.
I called my best friend who lives near the Pentagon. He was in his apartment together with his parents who just came over to visit him. They were watching the news about the twin Towers and suddenly he heard the plane. He looked outside and saw the plane coming down. I'll quote him: 'If I stretch my arm I could reach the plane. I saw the plane crashing into the Pentagon and a huge fireball emerged. I immediately called my wife who was working in the Capitol. She said they were evacuating the building and she had to drive 2 hours until she was home due to traffic jam.'
Then he and his parents came to the apartment again and watched the news again. Another plane was heading to the Pentagon they said and again he ran out of his apartment. I can tell you that he was shocked. Sometimes during our telephone conversation it was minutes of silence.
The scariest part was shortly after the second tower collapsed and the sky went completely black for nearly 10 minutes with people running for cover in the street. One man rang our buzzer for help to get out of the smoke and we let him in (he was caked in soot and coughing terribly for an hour). I can see the hospital across the street from our apartment (NYU downtown hospital) and there is still a steady line of people waiting to be admitted along with police, ambulances, and camera crews. It's like a bad Bruce Willis movie...scary, scary stuff.
My dad works a few blocks down and his building was evacuated right before the second tower fell, he said he could see people jumping from the world trade about every five minutes from his office window.
From a friend of mine, Stewart Quealy who lives in NY.
After about 10 minutes we went back to work as if nothing happened because we saw the fire fighters coming for the rescue and more than this we didn't evacuate our building because we thought that this was just an accident. But after around 15 minutes from the first blast my roommate at work was looking by chance from his window and says: what the hell is this plane doing between these skyscrapers".
Just seconds after that the second explosion occurred. I left everything in place and ran away as quickly as possible
Everyone was in panic and didn't know what to do. Policemen urged people to get out of the building informing us that it was a bomb on a plane. At the second I heard the warning, I ran to the Cortland Street subway station. Actually I didn't run, I flew on air. There were only three people on a station obviously shocked and confused. I smelled a plane fuel and was waiting impatiently for a train. Two trains had passed me by. They didn't even stop.
I was waiting for about 10 minutes and then called the office. At the time of my calling, I was the only person left on a station. With each minute fuel smell was growing stronger. Then the third train arrived. I was yelling to a conductor to open the doors but in vain. Then the station supervisor came up and ordered the doors to be opened. I got in and the train started moving. I arrived at the office at 9:20a.m, turned on the radio and only then found out that another hijacked plane hit another tower. I felt my heart stopped when I heard such terrible news.
I tried to call to Jersey City, NJ to my parents and sister but couldn't get thru. I had no idea whether they are OK or not and decided to go home. The mood at work was very disturbed. People were shaken and panicked. It was impossible to think about work. My colleague and I left office at 11:30a.m.
We planned to take ferry on 54th street. By the time we got there, we were informed that the ferry terminal had been closed. My colleague Maria decided to stay and I was determined to walk up to George Washington Bridge, which was still opened. It took me an hour and half to get there. By the time I arrived, the bridge was closed as well. An hour later security personnel began to allow car traffic out of the city but the bridge walk was still closed. People were angry and demanded walk to be opened. Some of them tried even to break the gates. In desperation I asked a truck driver to help me cross the bridge to Fort Lee. He graciously allowed and I made my trip to New Jersey on a back of a truck.
In Fort Lee all bus service was suspended. Streets were deserted and no taxicabs appeared. So I walked from Fort Lee to North Bergen. It's about 10 miles. Only in North Bergen I managed to get a bus to Jersey City. My parents and sister were OK and safe.
My prayers go the victims and their families and I'm grateful to the station supervisor (I hope she is alive) and a truck driver who let me in. I'm dismayed at what happened. I just don't have words to describe these attacks. I'm confident that the country will survive such a tragedy and will move on. To the people involved in the attack I say one thing only. They are morons and barbarians and will be punished.
I'm a Brit who has lived in New York for the past 2 years. My apartment was 2 blocks south of the World Trade Center, I headed out of town maybe an hour before the incidents. I've been watching the building which housed my local coffee shop in flames, the place where I buy my newspaper is gone - there used to be a fire station at the corner of my street, they would have been the first ones there and the most certain not to return. My office is very quiet today (Friday) - we had 2 bomb scares yesterday. Unlike Londoners New Yorkers just aren't used to this - many people were very scared and very traumatised.
This tragedy has touched millions of people around the globe. We here at Xerox have lost two ex-colleagues who were passengers on the plane that crashed into the ground in the USA. The enemy is unseen which makes him a coward but also makes him difficult to spot we must help all security services wherever we travel without complaint to prevent this happening again. We must as United Kingdom citizens be prepared to carry I.D. cards at all times and be prepared to show them when asked. It is a small price to pay for our peace of mind.
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 isolated fire in tower 1, and we did not need to evacuate tower 2 - again, thank god we continued down, others didn't. 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.
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