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President's cousin escaped death thanks to schedule change

President Bush's cousin should have been in the World Trade Centre when it was attacked.

Jim Pierce, managing director of AON Corporations, had arranged a business conference on the 105th floor of the South Tower where its New York offices were based.

But his group was too large so they decided to move across the street to the Millennium Hotel.

Two hundred AON staff are missing.

Mr Pierce told Houston, Texas TV station KPRC-TV he saw the explosion from the hotel.

"It might as well have been a nuclear explosion," he claims. "They were gone in a second. It was a huge fireball that came down and then back up. It was just raining metal and debris. We knew immediately that it was right below our offices."

He adds: "There's no doubt in my mind that people I walked past on my way out of there did not make it."

Mr Pierce says he was concerned for the safety of his first cousin's family. "These evil people would stop at nothing and what better way to go after the President than to attack his offspring?" he said.

Mr Pierce has been in contact with former President George Bush and former first lady, Barbara Bush.

He said the first family was being strong and he was incredibly proud of his cousin.

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