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Survivor of 9/11 breaks silence in newspaper interview

A survivor of the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers ten years ago has spoken of his ordeal for the first time to his local newspaper in the UK.

Michael Leadbetter, 41, had never previously spoken about his escape from the 17th floor of the South Tower but agreed to an interview with the Cleethorpes Chronicle after his dad Frank sent a letter to the paper about his son’s ordeal in the week that marks the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks.

Editor Nigel Lowther said Frank had originally asked for the letter to be anonymous to protect his son’s identity, but after speaking to him he managed to set up an interview with Michael, who lives in America.

In the front page story, Michael, originally from the Lincolnshire town, told how he had only gone into the offices of the British company Pearson that day in order to hand in his notice and clear his desk.

He told Nigel: “I went in at 8am to clear out my desk and I was packing my things up when I noticed A4 paper falling past the windows, as if someone had dropped a box from higher up.

“Suddenly everyone started running round screaming that we had to get out and I went over the other side to see a huge hole in tower one.

“I went down the stairs which was pretty scary as it was absolutely packed. We could smell jet fuel.

“At the mezzanine level people were standing around looking out at the other tower and I realised we just needed to get out.”

Michael had left the tower and was standing just a couple of blocks away when the second plane hit.

Nigel Lowther is co-owner of the Chronicle with Mark Webb, both of whom formerly worked for Northcliffe. They launched the paper in March 2008.

He added: “We set out to be a very local newspaper, packed with information relevant to a specific geographical location. We tell it as it is. Our journalism is nothing new, just experienced people doing what local reporters do best.”