Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Klaus Reisinger: What A Complete and Total Asshole

How do you say "co-conspirator" in French?

On Tuesday morning I was in New York to finalize the contract for a National Geographic documentary film. I had just come in from Paris the day before and was in Brooklyn when I heard the first explosion. A fashion photographer who lives nearby loaned me some cameras, an old F2 and a 28mm lens. I drove to the Brooklyn Bridge, which was blocked by police. When the first tower collapsed, people were running out of Manhattan across the Brooklyn bridge. I ran across the bridge towards the smoke. People were stunned, running around, completely lost.

I ended up in a fire station opposite the World Trade Center. The fire station was half destroyed and there was only the fire station chief left. I took off my t-shirt to put over my face. The firemen gave me a fireman jacket and asked me whether I could come with them and help. At that moment there was nobody else, everybody seemed to have run away or was buried beneath the buildings. We went on top of the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. It was dark like night and very dangerous. There were holes in the pile of rubble everywhere. Three firefighters, one student and I went into WTC building No. 5, which was on fire.

From the basement, we could see a gigantic hole above. Part of one of the two towers had collapsed into this building and made a gigantic hole through the roof all the way to the basement. The corridors were dark and we stumbled around in the smoke. We had only one flashlight. There were no walkie-talkies or other equipment. We called out for people. Everything had been buried by the collapse. We went up on the other side of the stairs towards building No. 6 but it was too hot. Pieces of building were still falling, smoke was coming out of each floor and we searched everywhere we could. All that time we were calling and shouting, but we didn't find anybody, we didn't hear anybody.

From the roof we saw that some other firemen entering the building and a few seconds later they ran out screaming that the building was about to collapse. We ran down as quickly as possible. A policeman saw me in the fireman jacket taking pictures, and screamed at me. He took the jacket off me even though the firemen were trying to explain that I was helping them in the search. I kept on taking pictures on the ground until I had no more film left.

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