Missing Persons: Manhattan, September 2001



To look again at the photographs of the missing that were pasted on the walls of Manhattan in 2001 is for me to feel once more the urgency and the disturbance of the first few hours and days after the destruction of the World Trade Center. A jumble of incomprehensible events came one after another in rapid, staccato succession. An explosion and fire at the top of tower one—a bomb perhaps, or a plane hitting the skyscraper by accident? Some saw the plane collide; most assumed it was a horrific accident. People phoned their friends: “Switch your television on!” Huge flames and black smoke could be seen from near the top of the 110-story North Tower. Then, this time observed by those on the streets of Manhattan and the viewers worldwide watching the live coverage, a second plane flew straight into the South Tower. This had to be deliberate: or at least the aircraft made a definite turn to head for the tower at speed. Gigantic fireballs appeared and debris began to fall. People watching on the streets were tormented by the fate of those in the buildings. There would be escape routes, surely? Staircases would be there if the lifts were out of action. People would get out. Yet those watching could see to their disbelief and horror people falling from the buildings to their deaths. Not just one or two “jumpers,” but a steady stream of figures spewed out alongside the rubble and debris as it fell.1


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© Elizabeth Dauphinee and Cristina Masters 2007

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