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  Eric Levine: Eyewitness account
Updated 03 September 2002, 14.36

Eric's account conveys the terror of the attacks. It would take about 5-6 minutes to read out the text below.

Audio version
Alternatively if you can link a laptop to the PA or a hi-fi system his description of the events lasts a compelling 8 minutes.

Hear Eric's report  

Eric's account
On Tuesday morning at 8:46 PM, I was in 2 World Trade Center on the 64th floor, where I used to report to work for Morgan Stanley. I was sitting at my computer reading the BBC on the internet about the problems in Israel, when I heard an explosion.

I remember that I thought that it was a bad explosion because I heard the back up generator kick in within seconds of the initial impact. I jumped up and ran to one of the unoccupied offices that had a window and looked out to see large amounts of debris (papers, metal, all kinds of things!) floating down towards the street.

I ran back into my office and called my boss on his cell phone and told him, "Don't come in here there was an explosion and we are beginning to evacuate!" and I hung up the phone and ran back out into the hallway. At that moment someone called out to me, 'Is there any one down there!" ,"Yes", I said and he yelled at me to, 'get my ass' into the stairwell because we were evacuating. I did as told.

At that time people were still very calm and were evacuating in an orderly fashion. It was business as usual and occasionally the lines would slow down because people were fooling around on the stair well.

'The building began to sink'

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 stairwell to steady myself when a women 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 my feet and all I could think about was that it would crack open and I would fall hundreds of feet to my death!

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. I remember that I began to pray once the floor gave out. Asking God to just let the building stop shaking long enough for me to get out.

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 women who had landed on me and a few people that I remember from my floor pushed up against the wall and waited for the initial surge of people to subside and then we began to move out again.

'We began to smell jet fuel'

After this things began to speed up some were along the route and between the 44th and 34th floors. I lost sight of the little Philipino women who had been hanging on to my arm. 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 began to become a little difficult to breathe but by the 15th floor it became unbearable due to the amount of smoke that was now entering the stairwell.

I took of 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 and eternity, but actually took about 40 minutes we saw our first glimpse of the outside world.

The stairwell let out onto the mezzanine were the elevators were located that took you up to the observation deck. We were met by the FBI and NYPD detectives who were asking if anyone needed medical attention and then yelling at us to keep moving towards the escalators and down into the shopping area of the World Trade Center Plaza. (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 was still falling to the ground and some still smouldering. I will never forget that sight as long as I live.

'Huge plumes of thick black smoke'

After we got down to the Plaza level you were directed out to either Liberty street (and probably death because that's were the building collapsed) or towards the E train on the other side of the platform. That's were I went because I take the E train to get home to Queens. Everyone I was still with from Morgan Stanley at that time split up going in many different directions 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. When I came out onto the street at the other end of the platform I ran up to the first cop I saw and asked what had happened and she looked at me like I was crazy, "what are you kidding?" "No!" I yelled, and said I had been inside 2 WTC.

She then told me that two jets had been flown into the two towers and then she ran off to tape off the street. The streets were absolutely crazy. FBI inspectors were taking measurements of what looked like a piece of one of the planes' wings. People were screaming and running everywhere. Emergency vehicles everywhere you looked.

I took 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.

I began to run. I ran to the 6 train that was located on the eastern side of city hall. I ran down stairs and jumped onto the first train that pulled up just as I got down to the platform. At that moment 2 WTC began to fall to the ground with 1 WTC falling within moments of tower 2. I didnt stop running until I got back to Queens.




 

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