NEW YORK – The attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, resembled the death of city of Pompeii, says photographer Stan Honda.
Twenty years ago, two passenger planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, destroying them completely. Another plane crashed into the US Department of Defense building in Washington. The fourth plane crashed and crashed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to official figures, 2,753 people died in New York, 189 in Washington, and 44 in Pennsylvania.
Stan Honda, a contract photographer for the Agence France Presse news agency, found himself at the scene of the tragedy after learning from a colleague that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “I climbed to the surface (from the subway) and there were hundreds of people, all looking up at the twin towers. Both buildings were still standing and both were smoking. It confused me, I didn’t know about the second plane and I didn’t know what was going on,” he recalls. Honda.
As a matter of professional habit, he began filming people who watched the tragedy, filmed the buildings themselves, and then ran to the epicenter of the events at the WTC complex. Honda filmed one of the towers as the building began to collapse. “I don’t remember that moment, but a second later there was a loud noise, like the sound of a train, and it lasted a few minutes. A huge cloud of smoke and dust appeared and it was moving on the streets between the houses right next to me. Along with the traffic. on the cloud, people were running away from him,” the photographer recalled.
He captured these awful moments as darkness covered the street: smoke and dust blocked the sun’s rays. At that moment, Honda, along with other people, found himself in an office building, where he took one of the most famous photos of the day.
“A woman came in, completely covered in dust. She reminded me of a figure from ancient Pompeii. Although she was in a business suit and boots, you could not tell what color they were. She stopped for a moment by the elevator and I took a shot, and then for a second, someone led her up the stairs to help her hide in a safe place,” recalls the author of the photo, who traveled the world at the World Trade Center. His character, Marcy Borders, known as the Lady in the Dust, was an employee of the Bank of America branch located in the World Trade Center.
Honda later met her and was glad she was “physically unharmed” during the attack. “It was very pleasant to learn her story and shoot her in a completely different setting,” says the photographer.
On the day of the tragedy, Borders was 28 years old, as she herself admitted, psychologically she never managed to recover from the terrorist attack, she was pursued by depression, and in 2014 she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The woman herself believed that the disease developed due to the toxic dust that she ingested during the collapse of the WTC building. Borders passed away in 2015 at the age of 42.
“I was sad when I found out about her death in 2015,” the photographer admits. “I knew from the stories I wrote about her that she had ups and downs after the tragic experience of 2001, but her life seemed to be getting better until she was diagnosed with cancer. She seemed like a real 9/11 survivor that’s why it’s sad that she left so young,” the photographer confesses.
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