Yoel Berger, a vice-president at Investec Bank, spent four days at the Marriott Hotel in the World Financial Center complex, just across the street from the Twin Towers that were hit in Tuesday's terror attack in New York. Berger checked out on Monday afternoon, some 15 hours before two airliners crashed into the buildings.
Berger noted that now all of the meetings he had held in New York seemed largely irrelevant. "Now, everything will change," he said. Some Wall Street colleagues told him yesterday that they had been unable to reach their offices, while others said they could not get to their homes in the aftermath of the attack.
Berger's son, Yuval, who works at an investment house some 700 meters from the Twin Towers, said that when the first plane crashed into the building, he immediately understood that it had been a terror attack, though his colleagues had been sure it was an accident. He said he had left his office with a friend and had bought a disposable camera to take pictures of the Twin Towers in flames. They stood and watched, and wondered how long it would take to extinguish the fire. "No one imagined that the buildings would collapse," he said.
After the collapse of the first tower, people began to run through the streets in panic, amid a cloud of ashes, he said. "We walked through the streets like in a movie. There was the sound of something exploding, like in the army. The trains didn't run and cars stood motionless," he said.
According to Yuval, it will probably take another few days before the stock market re-opens. "The bourse buildings themselves are located in the area and employees cannot reach them," he said, adding that he was not sure when his company would be able to resume activity, since there was still no access to its offices.
His father, Yoel, noted that all of the buildings in the area were still covered with a thick layer of ashes. There were still explosions yesterday as cars, gas balloons and air-conditioning units caught fire, he said, adding that friends at Merrill Lynch had told him that a fire had broken out in their offices yesterday.
Berger, snr., also believes it will take time to resume market activity on Wall Street. "While the stock market buildings themselves were not damaged, the market's employees and traders were critically injured. No one knows how they'll manage to work."
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