Singaporean, who was close by, recounts tragic events
sight or the
less than ten
– Mr Sri Ganesh
Shock and fear when Twin Towers collapsed
A replica of the Twin Towers installed at Times Square in New York on September 11 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
REPORT ON PAGE 3
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
MCI (P) 072/03/2021
LITTLE INDIA TO
LIGHT UP FOR
TIM CAN BE
Dengue suspected of killing
dozens in Uttar Pradesh
An outbreak of dengue fever is
suspected of killing dozens of people
in Uttar Pradesh since the start of this
month and the authorities have
launched a campaign to destroy
mosquito breeding grounds.
Mr Dinesh Kumar Premi, the chief
medical officer in Firozabad, the most
affected district in the state, said that
58 people, many of them children,
have died from UP’s worst dengue
outbreak in years.
Bhupendra Patel sworn in as
Gujarat chief minister
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and
legislator Bhupendra Patel took oath
as the 17th chief minister of Gujarat
The announcement of the
59-year-old’s name came as a surprise
as he was considered low profile.
It is believed he has a strong
influence among the Patidar
community which the BJP is banking
upon to win the upcoming state
Pilot error likely caused Air India
Pilot error and a failure to follow
safety guidelines probably caused the
Air India Express crash that killed 21
people last year, which was India’s
worst aviation accident in a decade,
investigators said on Saturday.
The Boeing 737, repatriating
Indians stranded in Dubai due to the
Covid-19 pandemic, overshot the
table-top runway and crashed while
landing at Kozhikode airport in Kerala
in heavy rain on Aug 8, 2020.
India asks Australia to end
pandemic travel curbs for students
India’s foreign minister urged Australia
on Saturday to ease Covid-19 travel
restrictions for thousands of students
who have been unable to get into the
country since the pandemic started
`18 months ago.
India sends tens of thousands of
students to top universities in
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said
he raised the issue “in some detail”
with his Australian counterpart Marise
IT department searches six
premises linked to actor Sood
The Income Tax Department on
Wednesday searched at least six
premises in Mumbai and Lucknow
connected to actor Sonu Sood, who
has helped several people in India
through his many charitable
interventions during the Covid-19
The Indian Express reported that
the department is looking into a land
deal between Sood’s firm and a real
estate company in Lucknow following
complaints of alleged tax evasion.
He was recently appointed Delhi
government’s brand ambassador.
Randhir Singh appointed acting
Olympic Council of Asia president
Veteran Indian sports administrator
Raja Randhir Singh on Saturday took
over as head of the Olympic Council
of Asia after its former Kuwaiti leader
was sentenced to jail in a forgery case.
Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, a
member of Kuwait’s ruling family,
stepped aside as Asia’s top sports
official after a Geneva court found him
guilty of a plot against political rivals
in the Gulf state.
Singh, 74, said he was taking over
as interim president as the longest
serving member of the OCA executive.
Mr Deep Narayan Nayak teaching
children who do not have access to
Internet facilities and gadgets
outside houses in Joba Attpara
village in Paschim Bardhaman
district, West Bengal.
He has converted the walls of
the houses into blackboards in an
effort to close the gap in learning
for the village’s children brought on
by prolonged school shutdowns and
strict Covid-19 restrictions.
“The education of our children
stopped since the lockdown was
imposed. The children used to just
loiter around. The teacher came
and started teaching them,” said
Mr Kiran Turi, whose child learns
from Mr Nayak.
The 34-year-old teaches
everything from popular nursery
rhymes to the importance of masks
and hand-washing to about 60
students and is popularly known as
the “Teacher of the Street” among
the grateful villagers. “I want to
make sure the children’s learning
doesn’t stop,” he said.
Children benefit from Teacher of the Street
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The Twin Towers bellowing smoke after they were hit by planes on Sept 11, 2001; (below) Mr Sri Ganesh with the intact
Twin Towers in the background taken a few days earlier.
V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
Mr Sri Ganesh is not an early riser. But the time
difference between Singapore and New York City
(NYC) made him get up at 6am on Sept 11, 2001.
The Singaporean, who was working for the
technology department of a multinational bank, was
in NYC to attend an office workshop connected to a
transformation initiative for one of its key businesses.
“As I opened the curtains in my 25th-floor room
at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, I had a beautiful
view of the two towers of the World Trade Centre
(WTC) trying hard to reach the skies,” he told
on Wednesday. “It was a clear, sunny day. Every-
thing augured well.”
The workshop, involving 20 colleagues, was ini-
tially supposed to be held at a meeting room on the
55th floor of the WTC North Tower. But it was
moved to the bank’s Harborside offices in Jersey City
a few days earlier because it wanted to save money.
At 8.15am, Mr Sri Ganesh and his boss boarded a
train at the station right under the WTC to go to
Harborside – a ride of about five minutes.
“We had an uneventful stroll to the office
premises except that we were admiring the beautiful
Manhattan skyline from across the river,” said Mr Sri
“We entered the office and settled down and I
was just about to open the presentation for the
workshop when someone came running in and said
that a plane had slammed into one of the WTC
“My immediate reaction was that it was not a
cloudy day for the plane to miss the towers – as
there were stories about how small planes often miss
the towers due to cloud cover.
“As we ran downstairs and looked at the WTC
towers, it was one of horror. Even from a mile away,
it was clear that it was not an accident.
“The fire and smoke could be seen and the
rumble could be heard where we were standing.
“As we were transfixed by the sight, the second
plane hit the second tower. The impact, the loud
cracking sound and the flying of debris could all be
seen, felt and heard from across the river. We
literally ran a few blocks out of sheer fear.”
According to Mr Sri Ganesh, the mobile phones
were already jammed. There was no signal.
“After what seemed like an eternity, we went into
the office, gathered our stuff quickly and left,” he
“But, before logging off, I sent a quick one liner
to our Singapore office manager that we were safe –
thankfully the company Intranet was still working.”
Mr Sri Ganesh recounted that there was chaos on
the streets. “People were talking about about other
planes hitting the Pentagon and other buildings,” he
“At around 10am, the WTC South Tower col-
lapsed with a huge roar. We again ran about a block
away worried that the impact would affect the
buildings close to us.
“The North Tower, which was bellowing smoke
and fire, collapsed around 10.30am. We were scared
and ran further and further away from the river –
probably for about a mile or so.”
The group then decided to go to a colleague’s
house, which was nearby, for lunch.
“We trooped in to the house in shock and settled
down in front of the television set,” said Mr Sri
Ganesh. “We then watched the close-up shots of the
hits and people falling and the debris flying and the
collapse of the towers. It was heart rending.
“I do not know whether it was luck or providence
to have escaped the fate of thousands by a proverbial
Around noon, Mr Sri Ganesh got a line through to
Singapore and talked to his family.
“Naturally my wife was very worried and told me
to ‘come back, even if you have to swim’,” he said.
“I had to remind her that I did not know how to
That night, he and his manager stayed at a
colleague’s sister’s house in Bridgewater, about 30
minutes drive away.
“We had lost all our luggage and belongings,” said
Mr Sri Ganesh.
“My passport (he was an Indian national then)
and a few other valuables were in the hotel locker
which was only about 50 metres away from Ground
Zero. There was no way that we could go there to
The next day, as they stepped out to buy some
basic necessities, they saw a young Sikh man being
attacked by a group of youths.
“There were some indistinct shouts, but one could
guess what they were trying to tell the Sikh (as he
had a beard),” said Mr Sri Ganesh.
“Eventually, better sense prevailed and the young
man was able to walk off, though he was thoroughly
“I was really scared because I did not want to be
shot by a mad man because of my colour or
perceived religion. We quickly went back to the
house and decided not to venture out again.”
The next day, however, Mr Sri Ganesh had to go
to the Indian High Commission in New York to get a
new passport issued.
“Instead of the Indian High Commission, the cab
driver, an African-American, dropped us outside the
Pakistan High Commission,” said Mr Sri Ganesh.
“We then learnt that the Indian High Commission
was just round the corner. We probably laughed for
the first time in three days.”
The High Commission staff wanted a police report
made before a new passport could be issued.
“We trundled to the nearest precinct and lodged a
complaint,” said Mr Sri Ganesh.
“The only form of identification on us was the
Singapore blue IC, which worked like a magic. The
officer filled out the form and in one particular
column – race/equivalent – he wrote: American
Indians. We were too tired and exhausted to correct
Then, on Sept 14, 2001, lugging their new
passports, they took a Singapore Airlines flight from
John F. Kennedy International Airport in NYC to
“It was a great relief to be back in Singapore, to
be back among friends and family,” said Mr Sri
Ganesh, 54 who is currently an executive director
with Standard Chartered Bank.
“To recount the escapades, to just be in the
embrace of loved ones, it was a big relief.”
He moved to Singapore in 1995 from Chennai in
India and became a Singapore citizen in 2010.
“Two years later, when I went again to NYC, I was
able to retrieve all my lost luggage, including the lost
passport, two cartons of microwaveable popcorn
which my son wanted and the books I had bought…
The 20th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks was
observed with ceremonies in NYC last Saturday. Said
Mr Sri Ganesh: “The main lesson for me was that
never take anything for granted. Bad things will
happen and be always prepared for it. If it takes an
extra minute for an additional security check, so be
“I cannot forget that sight or the sound. The two
loud thunders that day, when years of imagination,
toil and engineering work collapsed in less than ten
Witness to Twin Towers collapse
“As we ran downstairs and
looked at the WTC towers, it
was one of horror. Even from
a mile away, it was clear that
it was not an accident. The fire
and smoke could be seen and
the rumble could be heard
where we were standing...
We literally ran a few blocks
out of sheer fear.”
– Mr Sri Ganesh, executive director,
Standard Chartered Bank
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