TO THE EDITOR
UPDATES & NEWS
CONTACT NEW YORK
9/11 cops saw collapse coming
New York Daily News - June 19th, 2004
By PAUL H.B. SHIN
The World Trade Center towers showed telltale signs they were about to collapse several minutes before each crumbled to the ground, scientists probing the Sept. 11, 2001, disaster said yesterday.
In the case of the north tower, police chopper pilots reported seeing the warning signs - an inward bowing of the building facade - at least eight minutes before it collapsed at 10:29 a.m.
But emergency responders inside the tower never got the order to evacuate due to faulty communications equipment and garbled lines of command, investigators with the National Institute of Standards and Technology said in its second interim report on the collapse's causes.
"The NYPD aviation unit reported critical information about the impending collapse of the buildings," lead investigator Shyam Sunder said at a presentation in midtown.
"[If] that information would have been communicated faster to all of the emergency responders in the buildings, it could have helped save lives," he said.
Engineers believe the bowing of the exterior steel beams near the flame-engulfed floors was the critical "triggering point" because that's the direction each tower tilted as it came crashing down.
The findings that emergency responders could have been warned about the imminent collapse angered some victims' relatives, who were already fuming about the 9/11 Commission's report on Thursday that government foulups contributed to the chaos on that fateful day.
"Eight to 10 minutes could have meant life for so many people," said Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian, was a probationary firefighter who died in the collapse.
"We had no integrated command structure, so that the Police Department was unable to communicate the fact that the building was going to collapse to the Fire Department," she said. "It's a knife in the heart of the relatives of the victims."
Other key findings include:
- Even though the jet fuel on the planes burned off in the first few minutes after impact, there was enough office furniture to sustain intense fires for at least an hour.
- If the twin towers had been fully occupied - 25,000 people - it would have taken four hours to evacuate the buildings.
- The original builders of the twin towers and those who later renovated the structures did not have a clear technical standard for deciding on how much insulation to use around the structural beams, many of which gave way in the intense heat.
BACK TO TOP
© Copyright 2004 New York Daily News