Brazilians report how they survived the attack on the Twin Towers

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The US government estimate is that about 17,400 people were in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Some of those who worked at the Twin Towers were Brazilians who, fortunately, survived the attacks.

The businessman Tacito Cury worked at a school in the south tower of the World Trade Center. Shortly after getting off at the subway station, which was inside the building, he realized what was happening.

“It was a mixture of the noise of sirens and excavators and the silence of the city. You didn’t hear the city, you didn’t hear the city’s traffic. You heard the noise of the bulldozers, the ambulance, people crying, praying”, says the Brazilian.

Twenty years after the attack, Tacitus’ memory goes back to some scenes, involving objects and symbolic images for those who experienced the attack on the Twin Towers up close.

“People who couldn’t walk, wheelchairs overturned, children losing toys. There, the lobby was very small, those revolving doors where few people could get out”, he says. At the same time, he recalls the firefighters and police entering the building seeking to remove the survivors.

The next day, when reading the newspapers, Tacitus saw that he had been Marwan Al-shehhi’s English teacher, considered by the FBI to be the pilot of the second plane that hit the building.

“When I started searching my memory, I knew who he was, I knew where he came from, I knew I had had contact with him,” he says. Tacitus called the authorities saying he knew who the identified man was. “He was a very ‘in his own’ person, but still a very smiling person. He never gave me to understand that he was what he would become”.

Businesswoman Stéphanie Habrich, who was born in Germany but raised in Brazil, worked on one of the first floors and managed to leave the building within minutes. Without understanding what was happening, he was left to watch the horror scenes from the sidewalk.

Economist Larry de Faria Júnior was working on the 25th floor of the north tower when the 100-story building shook for the first time. “I had been at work for over an hour and I felt that terrible knock, that noise, that explosion. The building made a pendulum movement until it fell back onto its axis. I looked at my colleague next door and said, look, this is going to fall. Let’s get out of here.”

Twenty years later, authorities have still not managed to reach a consensus on the number of Brazilians who died in the attacks. New York City says five people born here are among the victims. Itamaraty, on the other hand, claims to have knowledge of three Brazilians killed in the September 11, 2001 attack.


THE CNN Brazil presented a special program this Saturday, 9/11, simultaneously broadcast with the American CNN and with correspondents across the United States, in honor of the victims of the 20-year-old attack. Check out: