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The entire city of New York stopped breathing on 11th September 2001, after a horrifying and an appalling afternoon terrorist attack that shocked the whole world. All that was left afterwards was a permanent scar that served a constant reminder to the whole city of the damage that terrorism can cause.
At 8:46, the time of the first attack, commuters were busy making their way to work. The trains were packed to capacity and were flying at top speed to their destinations. In comparison, cars were making their way across New York more slowly in the congested traffic. Smartly dressed office workers rushed through the streets and avenues like a wild hairy cat, hoping not to be late. Some of them felt they had time to buy a coffee on their way to work. Some parents in the crowd were carrying babies on their back, presumably taking them to Central Park.
Suddenly, there was an earsplitting, deafening, and unexpected explosion. A low-flying jet had crash into the World Trade Centre aggressively. The impact, when it happened, caused the North Tower to vibrate. The birds flew and disappeared immediately, but humans trapped inside the burning building were not so lucky. Observers watching the attack froze in shock; their eyes were wide open and mouths gaped. One man dropped a cigarette as he tilted his head up slowly to watch. The building began to crumble as it blazed. Huge chunks of concrete began to break into smaller pieces and this debris fell to the ground. People in nearby restaurants and coffee shops were just as startled as the passers-by. The North Tower was feeling the pain as it began to collapse. The tower was tottering, but remained upright for now. Those observing thought of all the people being crushed and burned inside the building. The sky faded from light blue to a shade of grey as the whole of New York changed forever.
At 9:03, a second low-flying plane smashed into the South Tower. The jet intended to rip the building in half. It succeeded, as the South Tower collapsed before the North Tower. Before it collapsed everyone inside was crippled by fear and heads were spinning. Office workers were frantically trying to escape. They tried desperately to run away and find a safe place but, for some, this was impossible. Those above the point of impact could only choose how to die. Some would choose to jump out of the windows rather than burn to death. These poor souls hurtled down to their deaths, while the world watched on ‘live’ television. Meanwhile, even for those below the explosion, some exits were blocked by fire and debris. It meant a certain death awaited those people too, unless these obstacles could be surmounted. Many struggled to push past. Many succeeded in making to the fire exits, where they slipped, stumbled, and fell in their haste to get out. It was difficult to see. Smoke and toxic fumes were everywhere. Some coughed as they descended. Some vomited on the way down. Many more vomited when they emerged from the building. Although glad to be safe, they were appalled at what they saw: two iconic buildings alight and bodies and body parts scattered everywhere. Many retched, but their stomachs were already empty. Many drop to their knees. They were doubled up in anguish. These images would haunt them for life. Meanwhile, on the streets, people could only imagine the panic and chaos still going inside the building, as more survivors attempted to escape. They had only been able to watch helplessly on.
Even the emergency services were hopeless. Firefighters had emerged from fire engines to attack the fiery flames, which hungrily fed on both buildings. Although the fire fighters had good intentions, it was unattainable to rescue anyone above the explosions which leaves the innocent ones suffocated. Many emergency workers perished trying to save lives, but their attempts to make a difference had been largely futile. Burning blazes continued to hiss and lick the walls of each tower, making their structures unstable. Firstly, the South Tower and then the North Tower collapsed to the ground creating a huge dust cloud. When it collapsed, it was thunderous as it was ringing inside people’s ear making people froze for a second. The floor was shaking as if there was an earthquake.
For some time afterwards, burning flesh lay on the ground, still smoldering and pulling in the last breath after this horrific attack. America had been destroyed by two dark, wailing planes which had transformed the famous Twin Towers into smoking ashes. However, America’s characteristic team spirit meant that, although these dark days were never forgotten, the country could unite and move on. In future, there would be no more terrorist attacks on this scale. America burned, but America learned.