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Agonising wait for message from the US Monday, September 17, 2001

MEHSANA: Fall of the two WTC towers in New York on that terrible Tuesday sent shock waves in many families in the district from where thousands of people have settled in America.

Though most of the families from this part live in New Jersey, people commute to New York and other places.

Umang Rameshchandra Patel, who has settled in New Jersey with his wife Sonal, is a software engineer at a company on the 73rd floor of the first WTC tower. When the tower was hit Umang was in the office.

Umang dashed for the stairs which witnessed stampede. It took several minutes for him to reach the ground floor and to safety. He had hardly recovered from his ordeal when a second plane rammed into the second WTC tower barely 100 metres away.

Shanker Patel, his father-in-law, watched in horror at the terrifying TV images. He scrambled for the phone to contact Umang's family in New Jersey. But he had to wait for 14 hours to hear Umang's voice.

After being detained by authorities in New York for 12 hours, Umang reached New Jersey at 11 p.m. and waited for telephone lines to be restored. Shankerbhai Jhinabhai Patel of Vadnagar was all tears when he talked about the miraculous survival of his son-in-law.

Bharatbhai Chaudhary of Dhinoj, who lives in a society off the highway was anxious about the welfare of his sister's brother Shankerbhai Chaudhary. Bharatbhai made frantic attempts to contact his brother-in-law on phone and the Internet.

But he had to wait for 15 hours before he got the message that Shankerbhai and his wife were safe and would return once the flights were resumed.

A newly-wed couple from a village near here was lucky to escape the trauma since they had shifted from Marriot Palace Hotel adjacent to the first WTC tower where they worked.

They had shifted to their new working place outside New York only two days ago. But their family did not know about the change; they got the message of their welfare only on Wednesday.

Still many families in Kadi-Kalol, particularly those of '42 Samaj' known as 'Dollariya Samaj' of Patels were on tenterhooks to know about the welfare of their kith and kin who have settled at various places in America and worked in the towers.

Long queues at STD booths at these places with people waiting for their turn to make international calls tell us of the anxiety of such families.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]

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