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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
US authorities name first Irish victims
Smoke obscures Nrew York skyline
The famous twin towers were destroyed
The Irish mother and daughter who lost their lives when the plane they were travelling on crashed into the World Trade Center in New York have been named.

Ruth Clifford McCourt, 45, and her three-year-old daughter Julie-Anne had been living in Connecticut for some time and were travelling from Boston to Los Angeles when the attack happened.

The family were originally from County Cork in the Irish Republic, and are the first confirmed Irish victims of Tuesday's attack in America.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, expressed his sympathy to the family and to all those affected by the attacks.

A national day of mourning in the Irish Republic, for the American people, will be held on Friday.

Meanwhile, eye witnesses have told harrowing stories of how they watched two planes crash into the twin tower building in New York, in the worst terrorist attack in America's history.

Everyone was relatively controlled but everybody was afraid a plane or a missile could hit our building too

Michael McBride

Northern Ireland man Gary McKendry, originally from Ballyclare, County Antrim, is a film director living in Manhattan.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Wednesday, he said he was just 15 blocks away from the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, when they collapsed.

Another plane smashed into the Pentagon, striking at the heart of the US military machine in Washington DC.

"It was just absolutely unbelievable.


"Two thousand people went: "Oh no, oh no," because you could see it slowly falling into the street and 2,000 people began crying," said Mr McKendry.

Michael McBride, a computer programmer from Donegal, works in a 38 floor skyscraper in Manhattan.

The building was evacuated after the second plane struck the World Trade Center, just a quarter of a mile away.

"Everyone was relatively controlled but everybody was afraid a plane or a missile could hit our building too because it would have been probably one of the biggest left standing down around that area," he said.

"It was very scary."

Smoke billows from the Pentagon
The Pentagon is the heart of America's defence machine

On Tuesday, passengers from a jumbo jet en route from London to Seattle were sent to hotels in Northern Ireland after their flight was diverted to Belfast following the terrorist attacks.

The travellers watched the images being broadcast with a mixture of horror and disbelief.

"Your first reaction is that this must be some kind of Hollywood film," said Adam Loving.

"Not being present there I just can't understand it, the only way your brain can process it is to imagine all the movies you see of New York being destroyed it just seems completely unreal to me."

'Unyielding anger'

"I am just sick to my stomach at the devastation of human lives and I think the anger will come later, but right now I am just sick," said Gwen Turbyfield.

US President George W Bush has vowed to hunt down those responsible for the terrorist attacks which have stunned the United States and the world.

In a live television address, he said the American people were in a state of disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet unyielding anger.

Mr Bush also said thousands of people may have died in the attacks.

Rescue teams in New York and Washington have been working through the night, searching for any survivors.

If you have links with Northern Ireland and have an eyewitness story to tell about the attacks in America, e-mail Radio Ulster's Talkback programme -

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

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