Americas day of terror
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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
William Frankenstein
Student in his junior year at Stuyvesant High School
William Frankenstein
"People yell at us to run. We look back and the ash and smoke cloud is rolling over the building. That low rumbling is in the air and we know that the second tower has collapsed."

The bell goes off, and period one changes to period two. AP Calculus BC. It was Tuesday, which also meant that I could put up homework on the board. I plop my bag down in room 407 and race to the back of the room, where already two girls from the other row are determining which problems to put up.

I had just paused in front of my section of the board when a shudder took the building. Then, someone near the window said that the WTC was on fire. We rush over ­ this is all of two seconds after the impact ­ and indeed see fire burning furiously out of the side of the WTC. I am stunned. A teacher later comes in and says that she saw it all happen ­a plane crashed into the WTC.

We alternate between sitting down and going to the two windows in room 407, which is on the south side of the building, to watch the continuing drama. The TV is turned on. Cell phones are out. Teitel (our principal) announces whatıs happened, and that classes should continue ­ I assume that he just doesnıt want people in the hall ­ and I pack my bag.

'We see people falling'

Anna is crying frantically, I try to offer comfort. It felt awkward, as there was nothing I could do, nothing. The fire spreads through the building; we can see flames flicker through the dark and white smoke . While we donıt exactly see people jump, we do see people (two or three) falling through the air ­ as there was no reason for people to fall out, we can only assume that they jumped.

We can see that there is damage done to the side of the building, and that the top of the building is tilted, although only just.

And then the second one hits.

For some reason, it is larger. And, I am sure, thousands, if not millions, are watching it live. We felt it, and I was just able to see the fireball puff out the other side. This only confirms my first guess ­ terrorism. And boy, were we terrified. Our teacher says that we might have to evacuate ­ as this is what happened when the WTC was bombed ­ but she doesnıt know.

Nobody knew what the hell to do, except we could not leave the building. We proceed, then, to period 3. Pre-Calc. Our teacher is absent. We are his first period of the day; he has probably seen what was going on. The TV is turned on in this room. It is also on the south side, but with a not so great view.

'It seems surreal'

Upon hearing a report that a plane crashed into the Pentagon, I spike in adrenaline. It just isnıt real. Both WTC towers is bad enough, but the PENTAGON? I am numb, not aware of any emotion but shock and incomprehension.

This time, we watch ABC, and they are interviewing eyewitnesses right in front of our building. We can see children from the primary school across the street moving already, I think. In any event, two eyewitnesses, i.e., people just like us, are interviewed on the corner of West and Chambers, and begin their story. And then a rumble and flickering lights ­ and static. [TV transmission is affected when the antennas on the World Trade Center are destroyed.]

I should emphasize at this point that the noise really wasnıt that bad. Aside from the two explosions, there was a relative lack of noise which surprised me. All we heard (and felt) was an extremely low rumble.

Teitel summons all of the Heads of the departments for a meeting at 9:40 in his office. The situation is crazy. Nobody can believe that the first tower completely collapsed, or as good as. Even now it seems surreal.

'People yell at us to run'

We are told, in a sort of anticlimax, to go to homeroom for attendance. We flare up the radio, and for once our homeroom teacher, Becker turns it down, and his voice, for the announcements. We can see the crowd already gathered on West Side Highway. The place is chaos. People ­ among them, Natalia (a friend; her father works in the WTC area) ­ are called to the deanıs office.

Federal officers are in the building, we are informed, so carry ID. After about five to ten minutes we are told to immediately evacuate on the north side of the building

Upon exiting with Liang and a few others, we walk over to the bike path, where we can already see the backs of people ­ running. What? Why? People yell at us to run, we look back ­ and the ash and smoke cloud is rolling over the building. That low rumbling is in the air ­ and we know that the second tower has collapsed. We run, and while I did not run faster than I normally would have, I ran with a great deal more urgency than before. It was all surreal. Could not be happening.

'We saw people covered in ashes'

I stop running around Houston St. I meet up with another Junior, Alexia. I had seen her around before, although never talked to her personally. She just needed to ramble. Nobody we talked to knew of any new news aside from both towers collapsing.

In front of the Houston St. car area, we saw people covered in ashes, among them a couple, and a Wall St. trader in his vest. It looked like they had been powdered with white flour, or confectionerıs sugar. Both were in a panicked mood; the husband stopped for all of two seconds, and the wife, just one meter ahead, looked frantically. Both were dragging luggage, for some reason.

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