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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:39, September 12, 2006
Ground zero falls silent as US marks 5th anniversary
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The World Trade Center site fell silent four times twice each to mark jetliner crashes and the collapse of its iconic towers and solemn remembrances were held around the United States yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

At ground zero, a cavernous pit still largely unchanged from the first anniversary, family members of the 2,749 people lost held photos of loved ones, crossed themselves and sobbed quietly. 202 foreigners died in the attacks on September 11th, 2001. They include 67 Britons, 23 Japanese, 16 Jamaicans, 15 Colombians, 15 Filipinos, and 12 Indians.

The 6.5-hectare site went quiet at 8:46 am (1246 GMT) and 9:03 am (1303 GMT), the moments American Airlines Flight 11 and United Flight 175 hit, and again at 9:59 am (1359 GMT) and 10:29 am (1429 GMT), when the south and north towers fell.

"We've come back to remember the valour of those we've lost, those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them," former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said.

As they read the victims' names aloud, the spouses and partners added brief personal tributes.

"My love for you is eternal," said Maria Acosta, who began the annual reading of the names, including her lost boyfriend, Paul John Gill. "And we all love you very much."

President George W. Bush opened the day at a historic New York firehouse, mingling with firefighters and police officers who were among the first to rush to the burning skyscrapers. He was to visit the crash sites in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon later in the day before giving a prime-time address from the Oval Office.

At ground zero, family members clutching bouquets of roses had descended to the lowest level of the trade centre site, gathering around two small reflecting pools that marked where the two towers once stood.

The scene has played out on each of the five anniversaries of the al-Qaida attack. And the landscape has remained mostly the same: Construction on a September 11 memorial and on the 540-metre Freedom Tower began only this year.

"I think it's important that people remember as years go on," said Diana Kellie, of Acaconda, Montana, whose niece and niece's fiance were killed on one of the planes. "The dead are really not dead until they're forgotten."

At the Pentagon, where 184 people died when American Flight 77 plowed into the building, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld walked side-by-side to a platform. They sang along to "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and observed a moment of silence at 9:37 am (1337 GMT), the time the plane struck.

"We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power," Cheney said.

In Shanksville, where United Flight 93 crashed into the ground, killing 40, hundreds of people gathered at a temporary memorial a 3-metre chainlink fence covered with American flags, firefighter helmets and children's drawings. They opened the ceremony with prayer.

United 93 crashed after passengers apparently rushed the cockpit in an effort to wrest control from the terrorists.

"These men and women stood in solidarity so others would receive salvation," said Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and the nation's first homeland security secretary.

At Logan International Airport in Boston, where the two planes that hit the trade centre towers took off, security screeners stopped checking passengers for a moment and turned to an American flag. Passengers in line joined in the silent tribute.

In Chicago, people filled churches to pray and remember the victims. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, firefighters and residents planned to form a human flag. And in Ohio, volunteers aimed to put up 3,000 flags over 10 acres at a spiritual centre.

Source: China Daily

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