On 11 September 2001, Janice Brooks had just arrived at work on the 84th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when she heard an almighty bang.
The 61-year-old, from east London, had only moved to New York weeks earlier – and was reassured by a colleague that the noise was likely due to construction work and there was nothing to worry about.
Ms Brooks returned to her desk and continued working, completely oblivious to the fact that a hijacked American Airlines plane had just been deliberately flown into the adjacent North Tower by al Qaeda terrorists.
Minutes later, she was walking down the stairs of the 1,362ft South Tower when a second plane struck the World Trade Center – this time smashing into the building where she worked.
“I was knocked to the side, I didn’t fall down but I was jostled to the side,” says Ms Brooks in a new Sky News podcast marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“Then I heard this almighty screaming sound, a woman screaming the scream of nightmares, it’s a scream that I can still hear in my head… she walked through the door and her eyes were full of blood.”
As a fireball engulfed part of the top of the tower, Ms Brooks and her colleagues made a terrifying descent to the relative safety outside. They were met by scenes of chaos and devastation, as emergency services worked frantically and chunks of building lay scattered across the street.
“When I reached the area outside the building I could hear this ‘thwacking sound’,” she says, “I later found out it was the sound of people jumping from the building and hitting the ground.”
Ms Brooks was one of hundreds of survivors that day, but 61 of her colleagues were among the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives.
Ms Brooks has shared her story in “9/11 Janice Brooks: Inside the South Tower”, the latest episode of StoryCast ’21, a Sky News podcast series. Listen below.
StoryCast ’21 is telling 21 personal stories from some of the biggest news events of the century.
Click the link below to explore the series and listen to all of the episodes released so far.