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NEW ORLEANS Two window washers handling an apparently routine job had to hang on for their lives after a cable holding up the scaffolding on which they were working broke, leaving the men hanging on to the remaining good cable 40 stories above the ground.

'I knew there was something wrong,' said Jorge Gomez, one of the workers who was rescued. 'I've been doing this too long.'

Gomez said the workers were raising themselves up higher for the job at Place St. Charles when they heard a 'pop.'

The sight of the men dangling from the high-rise, startled people down below.

One of them, Dale Muehring, a contract worker, raced into action. He raced up to the 40th floor and broke a window out and helped fire department personnel pull the men in to safety.

'(I) took a nice, probably $5,000 Persian rug and threw it over the glass to the guys weren't cut to ribbons when we pulled them in,' he said.

Gomez and co-worker Willis Everidge shared a hug of relief afterwards, but refused medical attention. They looked visibly shaken, but wouldn't admit to it.

'I knew I was OK right then and there,' said Everidge after the remaining support cable didn't give way.

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