Two 19-year-old U.K. students are claiming they meant no offence by dressing up as the burning World Trade Center towers for Halloween last week.
"We never meant to be offensive, but we apologize if any offence was caused," Amber Langford and Annie Collinge say in a statement. "The idea was to depict a serious, modern-day horror that happened in our lifetime and was not intended as a joke."
The University of Chester students are being condemned by media across the world after photos of their costume -- which won a costume contest at a Chester nightclub -- sprung up on social media. British tabloid The Sun quickly caught wind of the costumes and landed the two girls on their front page along with the headline “Towering stupidity.”
The makeshift cardboard costumes are made in the shape of the North and South Towers, with flames extending from the sides. Their hats depict billowing smoke, American flags and small bodies jumping from the towers, reports BBC.
“It’s hard to understand where they’ve come from to do this without a thought for those who died or the families left behind,” Patricia Bingley, whose son was among the 67 British people killed in the 9/11 attacks, tells The Independent.
Langford's father, a pilot, was flying in the U.S. during the 9/11 attacks. He says he'll be having a "chat" with his daughter about her
“I didn't know anything about it, but I'm not happy at all,” Martin Langford says. “She knows I'm a pilot and that's not cool.”
Disturbingly, the women won £150 in shopping vouchers for their prize-winning costume from the nightclub, Chester Parties, who held the costume competition. The nightclub owners have since apologized saying a contracted DJ awarded the prize to the women and that it was a serious error in judgment.
Similarly, the University of Chester and Chester Students' Union have condemned the women's actions, claiming they "utterly condemn the appalling photos which have been shared on social media".
A spokesperson from the university also added that the women may face some form of disciplinary action.