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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Grappling with global grief
Lighting candles for the dead in Sweden
Lighting candles for the dead in Sweden
On Tuesday 11 September 2001 four audacious and horrific attacks rocked the United States. As a result many have been left with a sense that the world is now a very different place, writes BBC News Online's Megan Lane.

Few will forget their first sight of a passenger jet smashing into the World Trade Center in New York, and the subsequent scenes of carnage and confusion.

Survivor outside World Trade Center
A survivor weeps: A day at the office turns to tragedy
Few have been left unmoved.

This uniquely awful terror attack will be indelibly etched on our collective consciousness.

Across the world shared moments of grief have happened before, as with the assassination of John F Kennedy and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, though nothing stands comparison with this week's awful events in the USA.

Even for those not personally touched by the tragedy, it is genuinely shocking that innocent people can die while sitting at their desks, that terrorists can wilfully attack civilian targets.

As people the world over grapple with their sympathy for the victims and their anger at the as yet unknown perpetrators, condolence books and messages boards fill with words for the dead.


It has changed our sense of being safe in the world

Christine Kalus
Football crowds and City workers are among those to have honoured a minute's silence. Candles have been lit for the victims and their loved ones as far away as Sweden, Israel and New Zealand. And Friday will be a Europe-wide day of mourning.

But there is uncertainty. Who did it? Why? Could it happen again?

Shaken and shaking

Christine Kalus, a clinical psychologist specialising in palliative care, says the fact the attack was man-made and happened in a modern city has given it a more profound impact than any natural disaster.

Firefighters search the scene
Shaken news anchors presented coverage of the events
"The scale of loss is similar to that of an earthquake or flood but nations such as ours rarely experience natural disasters.

"This was terrorism and we find the nature of these deaths shocking. It has changed our sense of being safe in the world."

But she says this is also an event which has polarised reactions within cultures, such as the sense of triumphalism in parts of the Arab world.


This volcano didn't come from below but above

The Rt Rev Jim Thompson
Those in the US rushing to give blood or feed the rescue workers are responding to the very human need to try and make the best of a dreadful situation.

Ms Kalus says: "After a relatively short period of time, we'll get back our sense of equilibrium. But for the survivors, the rescue workers, it's going to take much longer - if ever - to reach that."

Caught up in emotion

Professor David Alexander, of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research, says the uncertainty over who and why the attacks took place has made many people - both in the US and abroad - feel vulnerable.

Arsenal players held a minute's silence
Arsenal players held a minute's silence
"Anger lurks close beneath the surface - people want to know who caused this.

"We want to know who the victims are and who the perpetrators are."

But rather than indulge in an outpouring of collective grief, it is important to try to understand how those genuinely shadowed by the tragedy must be feeling, he says.

Man's inhumanity to man

The Rev Jim Thompson, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, says fear is rumbling up from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Praying in US
In memory of those who died
"The mayor of New York said the casualties would be more than any of us could bear.

"This volcano didn't come from below but above, raining terror on Manhattan. Not a natural disaster, but man-made.

"Will the appetite for retaliation lead to indiscriminate reprisals?"

As the US ponders its response to the attacks, and world leaders pledge their support in hunting down the perpetrators, only history will tell.

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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