- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) A young securities broker who was enveloped in a fireball on the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center said yesterday that he remembers thinking, "Please, God, just make it quick."

Despite burns covering a third of his body, from his ankles to his face, and pain so severe he wouldn't let his co-workers touch him, Manu Dhingra, 27, survived the Sept. 11 attack. Yesterday he became the first victim released from the New York Weill Cornell Burn Center.

Wearing a Yankee cap and a New York Firefighters Foundation shirt plus wraps on his arms and heavy lotion on his face and hands Mr. Dhingra said he could not explain "why I have a second chance" when thousands of others did not.

"I just can't let it go to waste," he vowed at a news conference at the hospital. "Life can't be normal."

Mr. Dhingra said he had just emerged from the elevator for a day of trading at Andover Brokerage with its "most beautiful view of the city" when "I was just covered in a ball of fire."

"I thought it was over," he said. "I thought it was a bomb."

Then he realized that he was alive and that "there's nobody going to come up" to the 83rd floor" so he began walking down despite the searing pain.

Two co-workers helped him, clearing the way as they descended the numbing flights of stairs and occasionally fetching water for his rapidly dehydrating body. But "my friends couldn't touch me," he said.

Their greatest help, he said, was in deceiving him about the trip down.

Once, when he wanted to rest, they told him to keep going because there were just 10 floors left. He found out later they were on the 61st floor.

"I owe a lot to them for lying to me," Mr. Dhingra said.

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