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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Lockerbie memories flood back
Memorial in Lockerbie
A memorial plaque in Lockerbie
By BBC News Online Scotland's Deirdre Kelly

"It's times like this that those of us who have experienced something of this nature are drawn together."

They are the words of Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

She was speaking on Tuesday, hours after hijacked planes were flown into key buildings in the US - killing thousands.

I am sick to the pit of my stomach

Rev John Mosey, Lockerbie victim relative
The feelings expressed by Ms Dix were echoed by Rev John Mosey who lost his 19-year-old daughter Helga in the Lockerbie tragedy.

He said he could identify with those who had been left not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive.

"I am sick to the pit of my stomach and I have some idea how these people are feeling," added Rev Mosey.

When the New York-bound plane, carrying 259 passengers and crew, crashed to the ground a matter of days before Christmas almost 13 years ago, the world recoiled in horror.

American support

Lockerbie had been made famous for all the wrong reasons.

Marjorie McQueen, a local councillor who remembers the carnage of 1988, said the scale of Tuesday's terrorist attack in America was "just unbelievable".

New York firefighter
An exhausted firefighter tries to comprehend what has happened
She explained that her son and daughter had been due to visit the World Trade Center on the last day of their holiday to America.

Councillor McQueen said it soon became apparent her children were safe, but she added she could not "stop shaking".

"We had a lot of support from the American side after the Lockerbie disaster, now our thoughts are with them", she said.

A town like Lockerbie was unprepared for terrorist attack.

But it was forced to react in the same way as New York is reacting.

Its emergency services had to jump into action.


Their first priority had to be to save lives on the ground. It soon became apparent that many were dead.

So make-shift morgues were opened, emergency helplines for relatives were set up, the crash site had to be preserved for evidence and the media had to be managed as well as being informed.

world trade centre tower
Pictures before the second tower fell to the ground
Dumfries and Galloway's ambulance staff and police force told of the horrific carnage they came across immediately after impact.

Victims were found in trees, debris had been strewn for miles around.

Similar images will be recounted by America's front line services in the days, months and years to come.

But the similarities between the two terrorist attacks run only so far.

The small Scottish border town was incidental to the tragedy involving Pan Am flight 103 - the passenger plane fell indiscriminately.

'Moved on'

Without any planning, Lockerbie had given its name to the 1988 disaster.

Although the close-knit community had lost 11 of its own, with the clearing of debris and with time helping to heal wounds, the town was able to move on.

The most telling sign that life had returned to normal was at Dumfries Sheriff Court on 3 May, 2000.

Helga Mosey: Died on flight 103
In an effort to keep information flowing on the trial of the two Libyans there was an electronic hook-up between Scotland and the special Camp Zeist court in the Netherlands.

No one came to view proceedings.

Just one direct relative of a victim now lives in the town.

And on the day Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, was convicted of mass murder, townsfolk said they had finally realised "closure" - a word more comfortably used by Americans.

This quiet Scottish market town had found a way to cope - its name will always be inextricably linked with world terrorism but as Councillor McQueen put it "Lockerbie has drawn a line under what happened."

Megrahi: Jailed for life
But New York does not have the advantage of being a small rural community which can pull together and move forward quickly.

The scale of the atrocity which ripped open the heart of the world's financial centre inside America's most historic city sets it apart from anything which has gone before.

Unlike Lockerbie, this terrorist act will have global repercussions in politics, business, travel and tourism.

But if you take away place names and scale, one fact remains, Lockerbie and now New York have gone through the same devastating loss of life.

Radio Scotland footage
The sounds of America under attack
See also:

03 May 00 | World
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