Americas day of terror
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Front Page | One year on

After the attacks on America BBC News Online received thousands of e-mails from people who had witnessed the terrible events. Here is a selection of those moving accounts.

 Richard Wajda

 Brendan MacWade

 Mike Shillaker

 David Hsia

 Sue Frederick

 Anshuman Das

 Eric Levine

 Richard P Stearns

 William Frankenstein

Richard Prescott Stearns
Worked on floor 8 of the north tower
Richard Prescott Stearns
"Minutes later Tower 1 crumbled in front of us like some movie. It was so bizarre that you expected a producer to turn up and yell 'cut'."

Wednesday morning approx 6:15am: After the morning's events yesterday I thought I had almost seen it all. I was in a windowless sealed server room lab at the core of the 8th floor, and in all the din of the machines all I felt were a couple judders.

No fire alarms, no alarms of any kind (six months ago there had been a fire on the escalators and no alarms then either). Since construction was going on and large bangs were common and I worked on.

When I stepped out, the floor was empty (it was by now somewhere after 9am). I went to the lifts and they were not working, my heart started to race as I found the fire escape. It was filled with smoke and panicked people still trying to get out. Joining them we eventually made it into the atrium and onto the street outside.

Already the scene was of carnage, with debris flying down around us and bloodied bodies being taken away.

'A white cloud started to grow'

I got to the church cemetery across the street before I turned to see both towers on fire and people jumping from the upper floors. Minutes later Tower 1 crumbled in front of us like some movie. The feeling was so bizarre that you expected a producer to turn up and yell "cut".

Then a white cloud started to grow, at first like an avalanche, and then like a solid wall that would engulf you. I ran east past the park and did not stop until I reached town hall. There was a park bench so I sat with others trying to understand what had gone on.

The MTA officials had told us there was a third plane overhead, a police van had gone past at one point playing a loop tape of a message "you are all going to die, run now".

People were coming out of the asbestos dust and smoke clouds a single shade of grey. Some washed in the fountains in front of me.

'The second tower disappeared'

As I took stock I realized I had left the buildings with only my latch key and WTC security passes. I did not even have money for the phone.

Within the hour the second tower disappeared.

I am still in the city; having spent the night virtually locked in. I know the busses are not running out the tunnels and that the bridges are still closed. I have been trying to find my team. There are still a couple people unaccounted for but it looks like we were lucky.

After 20 years in London, and standing two streets from a bomb when it went off there, nothing could have prepared me for the last 24 hours.

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