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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Late start saved Briton's life
World Trade Center rubble
Ian Robb had a remarkable escape
A British man survived the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) because he turned up late for work.

Around 400 of Ian Robb's colleagues at the financial services firm Marsh are believed to have died.

Marsh's offices on the 99th floor of the north tower were in the immediate area devastated when the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, crashed into the building.

Mr Robb, a 59-year-old personnel manager from Leeds who has lived in the US for nearly 40 years, should have been at his desk at 0815 that morning - 30 minutes before the jet struck.

Collapsing tower
Ian Robb's relatives feared the worst when towers collapsed

But he was running late and did not arrive until 0845, according to his sister, Sue Brisley.

Mrs Brisley, from Norwich, said she had feared the worst for her brother as she watched the dramatic events unfold in New York.

"I eventually spoke to Ian later in the week and he told me what had happened," she said.

"A lot of people he worked with and knew are missing and also a lot of his neighbours."

'Charred remains'

Mrs Brisley said her brother enjoyed another stroke of luck after arriving at his workplace - in spite of running into the lobby, he just missed a lift going up.

When he did manage to get into a lift it stopped seconds after the doors shut because of the impact many storeys above of the plane hitting the WTC tower.

Mr Robb and the other people in the lift were trapped for around an hour before prising open the doors and escaping.

"When they got out the firemen were amazed that they were still alive," said Mrs Brisley.

"They said the other lift - the one he had missed - had come crashing back down the shaft and there was nothing but charred remains".


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16 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Britain 'at war with terrorism'
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