By Olga Craig, Telegraph.co.uk, Published: 12:01AM BST 16 Sep 2001
CAROLYN KYLE had planned to be a little late for work last Tuesday. Born into an old Boston military family, she had been brought up to take pride in professionalism: always get to work on time, dress discreetly, her father had drummed into her while she was in high school.
She used to call him old-fashioned, but his advice had stuck. Carolyn liked to be at her desk, with all her emails read, by 8.30am. Otherwise, she said, the day got off to a bad start.
An economist with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Carolyn's 30th birthday was only four days away. Kate, concerned that her friend would want to know about the surprise party organised for Saturday, had confessed what was afoot. Carolyn was thrilled: 30 is a big thing, she told Kate. "I can look my best now that I know about it," she joked.
Excitedly, she told her friend of a red dress that she had seen in a store near the World Trade Centre where she worked. It would be perfect for the party. Carolyn knew that the store wouldn't be open on her way to her office on the 37th floor of the north tower.
But she had tried on the dress already and, if it was still in the window, she could telephone and ask the assistant to hold it for her. It meant a short detour that would make her late, but only by minutes.
At 8.43, Carolyn was logging on to her computer. It was so bright that the sun, reflecting off the Hudson river below and streaming through the wall of windows facing her desk, made her screen difficult to read.
Carolyn always carried a Thermos - it was more convenient than the restaurant. As she filled her plastic cup, it shook violently. What was going on? She felt a shuddering as though the building was moving. Yet it was silent. The clock on the wall behind her showed 8.46.
"Then the noise started: a wild roar, so fierce I remember covering my ears," Carolyn said. "Like a roar that was getting closer, louder. More shrill." She jumped up, confused, seeing the dazed terror on her colleagues' faces. The lights flickered then went out, the roar was deafening.
In panic she ran down the emergency stairwell to the gloomy concourse that connected the World Trade Centre's twin towers at ground level. "It was pitch black. The floor was six inches deep with water. Everyone around me was blackened with dust. One man was bleeding from his head, but his blood seemed black with the soot."
The first thing that Carolyn saw as she scrabbled, shoeless and soaked - but mercifully unhurt - into daylight was a body thudding into the ground only feet away. As she looked up, she saw scores of people frantically beating the window panes, prising open the sealed windows, then toppling, like floppy rag dolls.
Stumbling backwards, she gasped as she watched the spread-eagled bodies hurtle down. Tilting her head back, squinting into the sun, she saw the fireball, the aircraft nose cone, the cascading, shimmering silver debris. "I was gazing into Hell," she says. "And it hadn't even really started."
Carolyn remembers every second of her slow journey home. It was a jumble of screams, of blood, of shock and of devastation. Sometimes she ran, desperate to get as far away as possible. At times she stood rooted: appalled by the carnage, crying at the courage, moved by the compassion.
She saw things that she did not conceive possible: injury and death on a scale she still cannot comprehend. She just knows that she was lucky: at 8.46 she survived the first strike when terrorists smashed American Airlines flight 11, with an impact of one million tons, into the north face of the north tower of the World Trade Centre: into the seemingly impregnable 1,360ft symbol of American pride that had dominated the skyline for 30 years. The aircraft's 16,000 gallons of fuel turned the tower into an inferno - and tore the first gaping hole in the heart of Pax Americana.
The morning had begun much like any other for Captain John Ogonowski, a Vietnam veteran who joined American Airlines 22 years ago. At 6am he said goodbye to Margaret, his wife, who gave him a sleepy nod. As Ogonowski, 50, sped away from his 150-acre, colonial-style farmhouse in Dracut, Massachusetts, en route to Logan international airport at Boston, he tooted his horn outside the house at the bottom of the road. Ogonowski's Uncle Al, a light sleeper, waved in response.
His nephew always honked his horn when he was on an early flight: it was a standing joke between the pair. As Ogonowski switched on his radio to catch the morning news, President Bush was pulling on his running shorts in Longboat Key, Florida. Visiting the state to promote his education reform programme, he reckoned he could do a half-hour circuit before his first appointment.
An hour later, a stream of bleary-eyed passengers checked in for the six-hour flight AA11 from Logan to Los Angeles that Ogonowski would pilot. He was already in the cockpit, running through pre-flight checks. "Perfect flying weather," he told his co-pilot, Tom McGuinness.
Others were arriving for United Airlines flight 175, piloted by Victor Saracini, a former US Navy pilot. As Ogonowski and McGuinness bantered with the 11 crew, a group of 10 Arabs - booked on both flights - silently filed through security control in terminals B and C. Concealed in washbags, tucked in the middle of their hand baggage, were razor blades that they would fashion into crude knives. None was picked up by the X-ray machines.
Several of them, now known to be "sleepers", had flown to Boston earlier that morning from Portland, Maine. Their luggage, which failed to make the connection, was later found to contain a copy of the Koran, a fuel consumption calculator and a flight instruction video. Others, who arrived by car, left behind a flight training manual.
Those who recall seeing them say that they didn't speak to each other. None of them, presumably, was worried about the obvious clues he had left behind. Their murderous mission, they knew, would be complete by the time they were found.
The 10 had eight accomplices whose mission was to hijack two more flights: four would board flight AA77, which would leave Dulles, Washington, at 8.20; the remaining four flight UA93 that would leave Newark at 8.43.
Their mission had been planned meticulously: its success lay in its simplicity. All four flights would take off within 44 minutes of each other: their aim was to bring death and destruction to New York, the Pentagon and Camp David - each a symbol of American supremacy.
The hijackers had been nonchalant about how they had bought their ticket: they were never going to be held accountable, they were never going to stand trial, they were going on, they believed, to greater glory.
They booked their tickets on the internet, using frequent flier numbers, between August 25 and 28. And they had paid the airlines handsomely: two paid $4,500 for one-way first class seats, another three paid $1,760 for business-class seats.
By 7.59, at around the time Carolyn Kyle was pressing her nose against a store glass window, picturing herself in the red dress, Mohammed Atta - who had gained his pilot's licence in Venice, Florida, at a local flying school - had settled himself into seat 8D in the business class section of flight AA11.
Nearby, in the front row of business class, were Abdul Alomari, Satam al Suqami and Waleed and Wail Alsheri. All 93 passengers had buckled their belts and Captain Ogonowski was taxiing out of Terminal B's Gate 26.
Sixteen minutes later, at 8.15, Marwan Alshehri, another graduate of the Venice air school, was in his seat as UA175 took to the air with 56 passengers and nine crew. Seated alongside were Fayez Ahmed, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi and Mohaid Alsheri. Behind sat Ruth McCourt, 45, and Juliana, her four-year-old daughter.
They had hoped to get on AA11 to travel with Paige Hackell, but, when they couldn't secure seats, opted for this flight, arranging to meet Paige at Los Angeles airport.
By now, in the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, the 69-year-old Defence Secretary, was beginning a working breakfast with a few Congress members to discuss missile defence. Stony-faced, Rumsfeld voiced his long-held opinion that the US would face another terrorist attack in the near future. "Let me tell ya," he drawled, "I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event."
It was hardly the first warning: last month, Israeli intelligence officials had warned their US counterparts that a large-scale terrorist attack on key targets on the American mainland was imminent. Two senior military intelligence experts had been sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI that a cell of 200 terrorists was preparing a major operation.
Even at the Pentagon, staff joked that they worked at "Ground Zero" - the spot, it was assumed at which an incoming nuclear missile aimed at America's defence headquarters would explode. The term was common currency: there was even a snack bar named Ground Zero in the central courtyard.
On Tuesday, however, Rumsfeld was merely reinforcing his long-held belief. As the Congress members listened in sombre silence, Sandra Foster, 41, a civilian employee with the US Department of Defence was leaving her home in Clinton, Maryland. She was early, as usual. Like Carolyn Kyle, she liked to be at her desk in the Pentagon early.
Kenneth, her husband and a former Army officer, was in the kitchen. Before she left, she had brought him a cup of coffee and kissed the top of his head affectionately. By now, all across New York, everyday people with everyday lives were beginning their morning rituals. The business community was bustling and jostling to work, irritated by the dawdling tourists who gawped at the skyscrapers and clogged the subway.
A few of those everyday people deviated from their usual routine - and lived to thank God that they did. Men such as Howard Lutnick, the workaholic chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond brokerage firm, who decided, on Tuesday, to put his son before his job and took him, by the hand, to his first day at nursery school.
"I wanted to take him to kindergarten: I told him it was 'big boy' school. It made me late for the office. Thank the good Lord," he said. Had he not, he would almost certainly be dead. Of the 700 Cantor employees who were on floors 101 to 105 of the north tower - one floor above the nine pierced by flight AA11 - none has been found alive.
Last night, as he rocked his son on his knee, Lutnick wept as he was told how Cantor staff in London and Los Angeles, on conference calls with New York colleagues when the plane hit, heard screams of agony. "It has changed my view of everything." he said over and over. "Who cares about material success? I can kiss my kids tonight. So many others never will."
Some of those everyday people, such as Oliver Monfredi, 23, a medical student from Sheffield who was just beginning his sixth week of work experience in New York, had, at the last minute, chosen to get up early to watch a particularly gruesome postmortem examination.
It wasn't something he was looking forward to; he just thought it would be good experience. It meant he was in the medical examiner's office, two miles from the World Trade Centre, and was assisting the wounded within minutes.
Others, such as Briton Sarah Redheffer, an events organiser for Risk Waters, a publishing company, who was nervous about hosting her first business conference, stuck rigidly to her itinerary. Known as a conscientious employee, she was anxious that the 8am event go off smoothly. She had flown in from London two days earlier and was in the Windows on the World restaurant at 7am, overseeing everything.
By 8am, the catering staff had laid out Danish pastries, fruit salad and orange juice for the 235 delegates expected - the keynote speech was to begin in half an hour. Normally the catering staff would not have been in before 10am to set up for lunch - they were there only because of the Risk Waters conference.
As the delegates filtered in at 8.15 to register, James Loughran, from Northern Ireland, was just settling behind his new desk on floor 34. One month into his new job, he was still struggling to find his way around the building. New York seemed like another planet to the quietly spoken Ulsterman who had been raised in rural County Tyrone.
As Loughran switched on his computer, silently congratulating himself on not getting lost once that morning, Mohammed Atta and his team were rising from their seats on board flight AA11. In the row behind, Robert Hayes, a passenger, who the night before had told his wife he had a bad feeling about the flight and hugged her closely before leaving, was about to see his inexplicable premonition become reality.
The hijackers had attached the razor blades to credit cards: they were ready to begin the hijack. No one can be certain what happened next. But from snatches of information and mobile phone calls from the passengers who were told to call their loved ones because they were about to die, investigators have pieced together some of what happened.
The passengers had probably just been served breakfast when the terrorists struck. Screaming and yelling, they bundled the air stewardesses to the back of the plane. Swiftly, they sliced their throats - their aim to lure Ogonowski from the controls. As the passengers screamed and pandemonium broke out, they herded them to the back of the plane.
At 8.20 air traffic controllers noted that the plane had failed to climb to 31,000ft as instructed. Confused but not yet worried, they continued to chart its progress. On board, Ogonowski surreptitiously activated a talk button that transmitted to controllers.
"Don't do anything foolish," they heard one of the hijackers scream in heavily accented English. "You won't be hurt," he yelled. "We have more planes. We have other planes." they gloated.
At 8.44, as the hijackers jeered at the passengers, two jets from Otis Air Force base on Cape Cod were ordered to scramble, two minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Centre. Two more F15 planes got in the air at 8.52, but they were 70 miles away and unable to intercept the second plane before it homed in on the south tower.
In all probability the pilot and co-pilot were murdered as the hijackers took the controls. Behind, the passengers cowered in terror. One brave stewardess called the airline's operations centre. She told them what had happened and, crucially, gave Atta's seat number, allowing him to be identified from the passenger list.
By now the hijackers had switched off the transponder that allows ground control to locate the plane. At around the same time, the hijackers on flight 175 had taken control. Five minutes later, Peter Hanson, 32, a software executive travelling with his wife and two-year-old daughter, telephoned his parents in Connecticut on his mobile. Hurriedly he told the elderly couple of the knifings and the hijacking. They could barely take it in.
Otis Air Force base in Cape Cod had heard Ogonowski's secret transmissions and dispatched two F-16 fighters to intercept the Boeing. The passengers, of course, knew nothing of this. They sat huddled at the back of the cabin. They had been told to call their loved ones: they had been told they were going to die.
They knew there was no hope. Some callers wept with despair as they reached only their family's answering machines. Screams of "I love you, I love the kids" filled the air. Those with no mobiles could only pray silently. Hanson made his final call to his mother: "We are going down," she heard him say, his voice choking.
The line went dead: it was 8.46. On the street below Joe Garlandi, an off-duty fireman, was captured on amateur film gazing at the low-flying aircraft, a perplexed expression on his face. At 300 mph, the Boeing smashed into the north tower. Life had ended for the passengers and the hijackers.
In the moments before the aircraft seared into floors 91 to 100, Sarah Redheffer, listening to the keynote speech in the Windows on the World restaurant and, perhaps, breathing a sigh of relief that her debut conference was running smoothly, must surely have seen the plane as it veered towards the north-facing windows. We will never know her thoughts, how she reacted. No one from the conference is known to have survived.
In the next 19 minutes, before flight UA 175 thundered into the side of the south tower, the 30,000 workers and tourists, the day-trippers and mothers, the affluent and the bedraggled were pitched into a blistering inferno. Some perished instantly, blasted to bits. Others, burned horrifically, hurled themselves to death: some in terror of the pain and flames, others in despair.
Melissa Hughes, trapped in the World Trade Centre, left a desperate message on her husband Sean's answerphone. "Sean it's me. I just wanted to tell you I love you. I'm stuck in this building in New York. A plane hit the building or a bomb went off, we don't know, but there's lots of smoke and I just wanted you to know that I love you. Bye bye."
Within two minutes of the fireball, the news was flashed to President Bush's motorcade, which was a mile away from the Emma E. Booker primary school in Sarasota. The President was told the news as he waited in a hallway. He was immediately hustled into a private room to speak to Condoleezza Rice, his National Security Adviser, who was at the White House.
Both believed that a terrible accident had occurred: they agreed that the President had to continue with his schedule until more information was gathered. Bush, smiling and relaxed and determined to betray no sign of panic, sat down with the 16-year-old pupils and listened as they read.
Meanwhile the same terrifying hijacking sequence was being played out on the other three aircraft. Just two minutes after AA 11 blasted into the north tower, UA 175 made a sharp turn left over New Jersey. The Air Force commanders who scrambled the F-16s from Otis faced an agonising decision. To shoot down a civilian jet needed the authority of the President. There simply was no time to contact him.
On board flight 175, Ruth McCourt was doubtless holding Juliana, her daughter, tightly. Her beloved daughter was, she had told Paige only that morning, the most precious thing in her life. She and her husband had tried for a baby for years - when Juliana was born, Ruth, already 41, had almost given up hope of motherhood.
Fear for her own life must surely have been overtaken by the agony that her precious daughter was to die, too. Perhaps she prayed: perhaps they all did as, at 9.05, the aircraft rammed into the south tower.
On the ground, stunned New Yorkers, already paralysed by the flames engulfing the north tower, noticed the second jet only as it banked and dipped a wing. Joe Garlandi, the fireman caught on amateur video, covered his eyes. In his job, he knew this was only the beginning.
In the air, flight AA 77 had reached its cruising height of 35,000ft. The crew was serving snacks: doubtless the atmosphere was relaxed. Just before 9am the terrorists, wielding knives, sprang. Immediately the plane made a sharp left turn and veered back towards Washington DC. Its tracking beacon was switched off.
As the hijackers grappled with stewardesses and passengers, Barbara Olson, a television reporter and political commentator, hid in the lavatory and telephoned Ted, her husband, the US Solicitor General. Frantically she asked him: "What should I tell the pilot to do?" She had no way of knowing that the flight was on a suicide mission.
At 9.43 the plane smashed into the Pentagon. Just 23 minutes earlier, Sandra Foster had called her husband at home to tell him of the attacks on the World Trade Centre. On the couple's answering machine she left a breathless message: Sandra had worked for the Pentagon for 25 years. She knew that her building was an obvious target, but she betrayed no hint of panic as she sat at her desk, in the complex's south-west side.
When she finished the call, she dashed back to the television: then an explosion tore a gaping hole five feet wide and 200 feet high in the five-sided building. Death for Sandra, craning over the television set at the point of impact, was instant. Kenneth Foster, who worked several hundred yards away, ran towards the blast. "It was horror, sheer horror," he said later. "Carnage, blackened trees, shattered bricks, molten windows."
He refused to leave. Alongside the rescue teams, he scrabbled through the debris, searching for his wife. "All I could see were legs, arms, feet. But I was looking for Sandra's face."
Others were luckier. Some, such as Michael Petrovich, 32, an Army specialist, reacted swiftly. He threw a computer out of the window, then jumped though. He suffered second-degree burns. Paul Gonzalez, 46, a budget analyst, smashed a hole in the wall and crawled out. He was pulled to safety by Donald Rumsfeld who, although ordered by the secret service to leave the Pentagon, had refused.
Back on board UA 93, bound for San Francisco, the stewardesses had wheeled out the soft drinks trolleys just as Carolyn Kyle was switching on her computer in the World Trade Centre. All was calm. Then, one hour into the flight, the hijackers grabbed their first hostages, forcing them to the rear of the cabin. The plane turned back towards New York.
At Air Traffic Control, they heard the pilot say, in a measured voice: "Remain in your seats. There is a bomb on board. Stay quiet. We are meeting their demands. We are returning to the airport." One passenger ignored his words and slipped into the lavatory to dial 911 - the American equivalent of 999. In the opposite lavatory, Jeremy Glick, an internet company worker from Hewitt, New Jersey, telephoned Lyzbeth, his wife, on his mobile. "Three Arab men with red headbands have knives. They have taken control," he said.
In a muffled voice Glick, a muscular 6ft 4in water sports enthusiast, told her that several passengers had decided to do something. His wife told him of the Trade Centre attacks and Glick must have known his flight was another suicide mission. She patched his call through to 911.
Though his voice sounded shaky, he joked that they had even thought of stabbing the hijackers with the breakfast butter knives. The couple, whose daughter was just 12 weeks old, both cried. "He was a hero for what he did," Lyzbeth said later.
"But he was also a hero for me. He told me not to be sad. He told me to take care of the baby. That whatever choices in life I made, whatever I did, he would always be with me. Be strong, he said. Grasp life. Live it for me."
In yet another lavatory, Thomas Burnett, 38, a medical company executive from California, called Deena, his wife. He, too, said the passengers were going to try to overpower their captors.
When she pleaded with him to do nothing, not to attract attention to himself, he replied: "No, no. If they are going to run this into the ground, we are going to do something." He rang off with the words: "I love you, honey."
Shortly before 8.30, the plane made an unexplained turn south, heading down the Hudson river towards New York. As both men - and perhaps one other - attacked the hijackers, Cee Cee Lyles, a stewardess was leaving a poignant message on her husband's answering machine.
Though the passengers could have had no real idea of the terrorists' target, some may have, rightly, thought it to be Camp David. As the men struggled to gain control, the aircraft plummeted towards woodland in Somerset county, 80 miles east of Pittsburgh.
By now, inside the World Trade Centre the stench of incinerated flesh, the cries of the horrifically injured and the shrieks of terror were beyond belief.
James Loughran who that morning had been so proud that he had got to his desk without once getting lost, was now very, very lost. He had been petrified when the room shook. After the impact, as flames licked above, he could see the debris cascading down outside the windows. "Showers of glass and metal were raining down, everyone was screaming. I remember thinking: 'Where the hell is the door?' "
Loughran followed others to the stairway that was running with water and black with smoke. He just kept running. As he stumbled into the sunshine he tripped over a body: it was a postman, dead, still with parcels in his arms.
"I could not move. Fireballs were raining down. I ran and I did not stop." A street away, Loughran looked back. What he saw, he has seen every night since, in nightmares. "Fire, smoke, the stench. I looked up and saw bodies hurtling down. I had to turn away."
As Loughran stood transfixed, Tony Blair was putting the finishing touches to a speech he was due to deliver to the TUC that afternoon. He scribbled furiously, pausing only to nod at Alastair Campbell, his chief media adviser. When an aide burst in with the news, Blair jumped to his feet. Like most, he thought it a horrific accident. He went back to his speech.
Absent-mindedly, he munched a banana - there wasn't time for meal breaks. Within minutes, as news filtered through of the second attack, Blair cancelled his speech and made arrangements to return to London: with a sinking heart, he knew there would be hundreds of British lives lost.
On the streets of New York, workers in nearby buildings wept with despair: from their windows, high up over the Manhattan skyline, they saw clearly the tortured faces of those trapped in the upper floors of the towers. Bill Rozar, a computer data architect for AIG Insurance, a quarter of a mile from the towers, grimaced in disbelief as he saw people whose bodies were in flames writhe in agony.
"The most sickening sight of my life was seeing them fling themselves out of the windows: what agony one must feel to do that I never, ever want to know. Those bodies, just crashing to the ground."
Inside the south tower unbelievable dramas were unfolding. Silvio Ramsunder, 31, who worked for Mizuho Capital Markets, was on the 78th floor of the south tower, waiting to be evacuated after the first attack. He was still in shock: he just felt lucky that his office was not in the north tower. He had seen people throwing themselves from windows: he prayed for them.
Then, at 9.03, his tower was hit. "I remember a massive boom and such heat. It was like a tornado. There were bodies everywhere. I distinctly recall thinking: 'Why him and not me?'
"Then I saw blood gushing out of my right side. I was on my hands and knees, and I started crawling through the black smoke, trying to find the emergency stairwell. I could smell gas and petrol, the bodies stank of it." By the time he was on the 40th floor, Ramsunder was on the point of giving up. A stranger called Mark gave him water and urged him on, dragging him by the collar.
In Florida, Andrew Card, the President's chief of staff, tip-toed into the room where Mr Bush was still listening to schoolchildren and whispered into the President's ear. Mr Bush's eyes narrowed - his face, captured on camera, turned flint grey - but he continued to listen and managed to joke with the pupils' teacher.
By 9.25, the Federal Aviation Administration had issued an order to shut down the nation's air system. Ted Olson had already received the first dramatic phone call from his wife and telephoned the Justice Department's command centre: he was told that officials knew nothing of the hijacked flight.
In the Florida school, Mr Bush knew he must now make an announcement: it was probably the most important of his career and certainly the most difficult. There had been, he said, an apparent terrorist attack on the country.
Air traffic controllers at Dulles airport, in the knowledge that flight 77, with its radar transponders switched off, was flying at high speed in the restricted airspace around the White House, issue warnings. Immediately evacuations began in the White House.
Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, and Richard Cheney, the Vice-President, were moved deep beneath the building to the President's Emergency Operations Centre, which is designed to withstand a nuclear attack. As Cheney hurried down the steep staircase, an aide told him that another aircraft, or possibly a helicopter, might be heading towards the White House.
While the evacuated staff set up temporary headquarters at a nearby law firm, secret service agents armed with machineguns were deployed around the White House. As they got into position, Laura Bush, the President's wife, was whisked away to a secret bunker.
Meanwhile, as Mrs Bush was driven away, stunned medical teams and firefighters streamed on to the streets of New York.
Hundreds of firemen were scrambled from the New York Fire Deparment - among them Mike Kehoe, from the 28th Engine Company in Manhattan. With scores of colleagues, he fought his way into the blazing buildings, forcing his way through the survivors piling out.
Until Friday, he was thought to have perished; in fact, he escaped the south tower 30 seconds before it collapsed at 10.07. More than 200 of his colleagues died as they tried to save trapped worked.
As the firefighters stormed into the towers, Father Michael Judge, the Fire Service chaplain, knelt on the pavement to give the last rights to a dying colleague. As he softly spoke the last line of the prayer, a body plummeted down and crushed him to death.
By midday, the streets around the towers were sodden with ash, awash with blood, fuel and water and littered with rubble. As Carolyn Kyle stumbled homeward, she passed the shop where, that morning, she had gazed longingly at the red dress. She clearly remembers thinking: "Blood red, I will never wear that colour again."
All around her, hospital workers ran up and down the streets shouting: "Blood donations, blood donations." Hysterical survivors wandered the streets. All around were the tangled girders, the glass shards and the rubble that was once the twin towers. As stretchers ran out, medics improvised, tearing doors off shops.
Anyone with a boat was begged to help ferry victims across the Hudson. Ariana Pelham, 28, a London law student who was studying in New York, had queued to give blood. She had crewed on a boat during the summer and ran to Chelsea Pier, where it was docked. There she was given basic medical instructions: her task, however, was to be much grimmer.
Each volunteer was given a bundle of coloured tags. Black, they were told, were for the dead; red for those that would probably die but might not, themselves, know it; yellow for those who might survive and were the priority.
Ariana was assigned to the red and black teams. "I was told to go over the bodies of the dead to check for tattoos or scars, to check their pockets, to make notes on their clothes - anything that would help with identifying them. `Don't get personally involved,' we were told. "How could we not?"
Oliver Monfredi, the medical student from Sheffield who had volunteered to treat the injured, ran into the emergency rooms of St Vincent's hospital shortly after noon. By 3pm, he was still there.
In a nearby room Silvio Ramsunder, who would have perished on the stairwell had not a stranger given him water, had been treated. He had a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung. "But I was alive. That feeling of joy that I had survived overcame any pain," he told doctors.
By now President Bush was on board Air Force One and had authorised American forces to raise their war readiness status to DefCon 3, two levels short of war. Such was the security around the President that few of those on the flight - even the secret service agents - had been told where the plane was going. His plane soared to 40,000ft as an added security measure and an F-16 fighter flew at each wing. To ensure the President's safety it flew in circles for almost two hours.
In the meantime, Rumsfeld had held a meeting in the National Military Command Centre: though deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, smoke had seeped down and the air was acrid. Fighter aircraft were scrambled over Washington DC, where their sonic booms created more panic.
When the President's aircraft landed at Barksdale air force base in Louisiana, the headquarters of the Eighth Air Force, it was instantly surrounded by soldiers in flak jackets and carrying M16s.
It was from there, at 12.36, that Bush made his first television statement: "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward," he began. By 2.50pm he had moved to Offut air force base in Nebraska, where he presided over a meeting of his national security team.
At the White House, there was disquiet that the President was not there. Trent Lott, the Republican minority leader in the Senate, told the assembled staff: "He has to reassure the nation. And he has to do it from the Oval Office."
Across the Atlantic, Blair had arrived in London by 4.30 and called a meeting of Cobra - Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. He had already been apprised of the most sensitive information. He had called leaders in France, Germany, Russia and China. All were sympathetic - with the exception of the Chinese.
In New York, where people were still in shock, traffic was at a standstill. Children, waiting to be picked up from school, had been left crying at school gates. No one knew where their parents were.
By 7pm the President had been flown to the White House and stood, head bowed, for an impromptu rendering of God Bless America. Within an hour and a half, dressed in sombre navy, his hands clasped, he made his Oval Office speech: there would be, he vowed, no distinction made between the terrorists who committed the attacks and those who harboured them.
Ariana Pelham, covered in dust and blood, was still tagging bodies, trying desperately to follow the "don't become involved" advice. Oliver Monfredi was still hoisting bodies, some warm, some long cold, on to makeshift stretchers - but so few were recovered that the ferries that had been prepared to cross the moonlit Hudson to the temporary mortuaries were almost empty.
Carolyn Kyle was at home. Last night, on her 30th birthday, the red dress was the very last thing on her mind. Since Tuesday, she has worn black.
- Reporting team: Andrew Alderson, Charles Laurence, Bill Langley, Annette Witheridge, David Wastell, Joe Murphy, Charlotte Edwardes, Chris Hastings, Jenny Booth, Philip Sherwell, Jenny Jarvie