Cargo Business News

September 2011

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18 ESCAPE FROM Office manager Claire McIntyre was checking her e-mail when she first heard the plane. Her office was on the 91st floor of one of the two massive World Trade Center towers, looking out toward upper Manhattan. "I was working at my computer and first heard this horrendous roar of a jet engine," she recalled. "I thought it couldn't possibly be this close. Then I saw the wing and tail of a plane." She jumped up immediately, screaming, and ran out her office to alert the rest of the staff. Claire is a long-time employee with the American Bureau of Shipping - the international clas- sification society. Her office was in the northwest corner of the building, and she didn't know if anybody else had seen the plane. "I thought: 'Oh my God, all my people.' I ran out into the hallway and just screamed: 'Everyone, get out now.' It was around 8:45 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11, and American Airlines Flight 11 had just slammed into the building a few stories above her head. All 92 people on board died when the hijacked Boeing 767 plane hit the building. Claire had no idea at the time that this was a terrorist attack. "I thought it was an accident," she said. In the reception area, they quickly discovered that all 11 ABS staff working that day were pres- ent. Electricians working in their office also joined them. One of the staff members got hold of some paper towels and began wetting them in case they ran into smoke. Claire even had the presence of mind to grab her pocketbook and a flashlight. She wasn't in the building the day terrorist bombers struck the World Trade Center in 1993, kill- ing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others. But she'd heard about the chaos and darkness that followed that attack. The colleagues then began their long escape down 91 floors of one of the world's tallest buildings. "The first two flights were dark, with no emergency lights, and wa- ter was pouring down the stairs," said Claire. "We could barely see and I put my flashlight on. Then the emer- gency lights came on, and water was still flowing down." Fellow office worker Emma "Georgia" Barnett slipped and slid down three flights of stairs. She got up but then tripped over a hose, damaging her knee. She car- ried on, nevertheless. When the ABS staff started out, the fire exits weren't too crowded, but they became clogged with people as they descended. Re- markably, there was no panic. Colleague Steve McIntyre (no relation) checked other stairwells at intervals to see if there was a quicker way out. Several of them crossed over to another stairwell that was moving faster and worked their way down floor by floor. "In the 60s I was thinking, 'How much more to go?' " said Claire. "I remember getting to 22 and saying, 'Oh my God, we're almost there.'" They emerged from the stair- well at the mezzanine level, and were greeted by emergency ser- vices people, who were rushing everybody out. Then came the worst part. Claire choked as she recalled the moment. "As we passed the Plaza, [I wit- nessed] bodies..." Some desperate workers still trapped inside had thrown them- selves out of windows to escape the blazes. Claire met up again with Geor- gia, and they finally reached the street, exiting on the east side of the complex. American Bureau of Shipping staffer Claire M her associates from the north tower of Ne September 2011 S REPRINT FROM THE OCTOBER 2001 ISSUE OF MARINE DIGEST

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