As I approach Manhattan from JFK airport, the smoke seems fog-like. In the dark, the sight is unreal and eerie, an impression magnified by the intense lighting used by the teams of rescuers and contractors working around the clock to clear the disaster site.
It seems to capture the atmosphere that is prevalent in New York. People are still coming to terms with the disaster. Even my cab driver is subdued.
"It used to be the first sight I showed the tourists. The twin towers and then the Empire State building," he says.
The World Trade Centre was such a Mecca for cabbies that it had its own taxi rank. The workers there had a reputation for being good tippers.
Nearer the remains the site becomes surreal, despite the frenzied activity at "ground zero". The atmosphere around the area was sombre. Thousands have passed by here to mourn, to remember, and to further their personal searches for the missing.
Candles surround street corners, as well as the pictures of those still missing. American flags are omnipresent – in shop windows, on walls and pinned to passing cars. A child's picture at a makeshift shrine nearby depicts the towers held between the arms of an angel.
Defiant messages such as "God bless America" and "united we stand" illustrate the patriotic response to the atrocity. It appears the centre meant something for everyone – a place to work, a tourist hub, a symbol of financial might and now a religious focal point.
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'In the dark, the sight is unreal and eerie'