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updated 21/9/01

Guide Dog saves owner in World Trade Centre disaster

A blind computer operator has told how his guide dog led him down 70 floors of the blazing World Trade Centre to safety, writes Nick Mays.

Trapped Eduardo Rivera had ordered yellow Labrador Dorado to leave without him after the north tower was struck in Tuesday's terrorist attack, but the devoted dog battled back through the flames to his owner's side.

Columbian-born Rivera braved the growing panic to negotiate him down hundreds of stairs through thousands of frightened workers and outside the crumbling building. On the way, he came across his female boss who, along with the loyal Dorado, helped Rivera to safey.

"I knew I couldn't run down the stairs through all the obstacles and thought it wasn't fair that we should both die in that hell. I took hold of her arm. She went down on my right side and the dog on my left. When it became narrow and people were pushing and shoving more, she went in front and I just held on to her shoulder," said Rivera, 42, who is from Bogota, the capital of Colombia, which is fighting a war on leftist guerrillas. "At first there was panic, and some people tried to run and go first. But really most people behaved quite prudently and grasped what was happening, so we walked down in an orderly fashion, but it was slow-going.

"I thought I was lost forever as the noise and the heat were terrifying but I had to give Dorado the chance to escape. But he was prepared to die to save my life."