He would have shrugged and said: 'If it's time to go, it's time to go'

Victims and Survivors
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The Independent US

For a man who had been known to his friends as a "radical hippie anti-war protester", the austere corridors of the Pentagon could not have been a stranger place to die.

Gerald Paul Fisher, 57, a senior executive in a technology and strategy consultancy, was meeting clients from the US Army in the building that symbolises American military power when it was struck by American Airlines flight 77. He was among the victims of the attacks on New York and Washington DC named yesterday.

Mr Fisher, a former college professor, had swapped the fiery ardour of his youth to advise the one-time target of his protests. His company, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, had been employed to advise the military on an undisclosed project that required regular meetings at the heart of the Pentagon.

For the son of two California artists, who according to one friend spent much of his student years in the 1960s as a "hippie radical of Berkeley University" involved in free speech and anti-war protest, it must have been an unusual venue.

A spokesman for Booz-Allen & Hamilton said the body of Mr Fisher had not been found in the ruins of the building but he was presumed to have died with two colleagues from the company. Mr Fisher's daughter, Serena Fisher Duggan, said: "Anger was noticeably absent from his emotional repertoire. He believed everyone had a time to go. If you told him last Tuesday that this was his time to go, he would have shrugged his shoulders and said, 'If it's your time to go, it's your time to go'."

Efforts are continuing to identify the victims of Tuesday's attacks – and the death toll is now believed to number 5,876, including about 250 Britons.

Risk Waters, a London-based conference and publishing company, said 16 of its staff including 10 Britons were missing from the World Trade Centre. The employees, who were not named by the company, were on the 106th floor of the north tower for the start of a seminar on international technology when it was hit by the first aircraft.

Among them were a conference organiser, Elisa Ferraina, 27, from south-east London, who according to a former flatmate had moved to New York in search of excitement. The friend said: "She wanted to get the most out of life. She was offered the opportunity to go Manhattan and she took it. She worked hard and loved to party – New York would have been perfect for her."

Ms Ferraina was thought to have been staying in a hotel in Manhattan with British colleagues including Michelle Duberry, who joined the company in January, and Simon Turner, 39, a publishing director from Muswell Hill, north London.

Risk Waters, which publishes Risk magazine, a journal for the insurance industry, said it had also lost a "very senior" member of staff.

Stephen Mills, 37, a British accountant for American Express, told how he had left his room in a hotel in one of the towers to clear his head only minutes before the first aircraft struck. Speaking from Hong Kong, Mr Mills said: "When I woke, I decided to have a walk to clear my head before the meeting started, so I left the World Trade Centre earlier than planned. I was sitting in the building next door, waiting for the meeting to start, when I heard a huge explosion. It was absolutely horrifying but I'm lucky to be alive."