photo: parisien, herald tribune, cafe bouquet

Terrorists Attack United States

Paris:- Wednesday, 12. September 2001:- Yesterday morning terrorists hijacked four airliners in the United States and deliberately crashed two of them into New York's World Trade Center buildings and one hit the Pentagon, near Washington, DC. The fourth crashed near Lambertsville, Pennsylvania.

This alarming news flashed through Paris shortly after 15:00 with the first stunning bulletins interrupting radio broadcasts.

Telephone lines between Paris and New York and Washington were quickly saturated. By 16:00 the initialphoto: liberation front page news reached Roissy and Orly airports in Paris and all flights to the United States were canceled at 17:50, at the request of Eurocontrol, which controls European airspace.

Flights already over the Atlantic were rerouted to airports in Canada and Mexico, or returned to their take-off airports in Europe. Air France canceled its 15:55 Paris-New York flight on its own initiative.

Hasty arrangements were made to find hotel rooms for passengers stranded in France and passengers on planes that turned back from transatlantic flights.

Civil and military air control systems are working together to exercise total control of French airspace. Ten fighter-interceptors have had their takeoff 'alert' time reduced from five minutes to two, and can reach the furthest spot in France within ten minutes.

Paris' anti-terrorist measures called 'Vigipirate' - 'reinforced' - were recalled into action during the late afternoon by the Minister of the Interior, Daniel Valliant. For this, police will be reinforced by armed army units, including 850 parachute troops from Carcassonne.

Private firms, including the big department stores, immediately engaged additional securityphoto: herald tribune front page services. The Seine-et-Marne prefecture is adding extra security to Disneyland-Paris.

Throughout Paris, visitors from the United States learned the horrible news - waiting in line for the Tour Eiffel, or from CNN-TV, broadcast on cable in many hotels here.

Parisian reactions can be summed up with the words, 'hallucinant,' 'l'horreur,' 'terrifiant' and 'c'est un cauchemar.' Originally scheduled for 20:00, Président Jacques Chirac spoke on TV at 21:30.

In Britain, a state of maximum alert was declared and in Frankfurt major office buildings were evacuated. All flights from Britain and Germany to the United States were canceled. Meanwhile, all stock markets suffered heavy loses.

A Cafe Metropole Club member wrote, via the Internet, from New York City, late on Tuesday -

"Walking up from office to my sister's apartment - about four miles - this afternoon surreal. Only blessing of the day - good, clear weather which helps the evacuation and the thousands of people walking/commuting home. Main avenues still, no traffic. Most folks mute, subdued, shell shocked. Sound of one plane overhead riveted us in fear. Military plane. Mostphoto: parisien front page places of business closed. Restaurants open, crowded to the seams with folks watching TV coverage. On the streets, medical personnel hitching rides to hospitals. The southern view - a gaping hole in the skyline - billowing dark clouds of debris. Emergency vehicles in convoys headed to ground zero.

"When we first heard word this morning at the office, complete disbelief except that we could see the actual results from the window. Then feeling of fear - where, when does it end? We are at war. Will we see the end of day? No one hysterical but highly emotional. Few of us had a shot of whisky - my first ever whisky and at 10 a.m! Some comments - 'It took 8-plus years but they got the World Trade Center after all the second time around.' This day completely numbing. Unable to process all that has and will happen as a result of this attack. Friends from near and far checking in. This is much appreciated."

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