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Eyewitness Reports Of Explosions
Before WTC Collapses

Edmund McNally, WTC 2 victim, 97th floor

Edmund McNally phoned his wife Liz twice following the aircraft impact. Mr McNally said in his second phone call "Liz, this was a terrorist attack. I can hear explosions below me.''

Louie Cacchioli, a firefighter assigned to Engine 47 in Harlem

On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there was bombs set in the building.

Kim White, WTC 1 survivor, on 80th floor at time of impact

We got down as far as the 74th floor [...] Then there was another explosion, so we left again by the stairwell.

The above account ties in with the following news broadcast:

9/11 NBC News broadcast
211KB mp3 - to download file right click the link and select 'Save Target As'

"Shortly after 9 o'clock [...] [Albert Turi the Chief of Safety for the New York Fire Department] received word of the possibility of a secondary device, that is another bomb going off. He tried to get his men out as quickly as he could, but he said there was another explosion which took place, and then an hour after the first hit, the first crash that took place, he said there was another explosion that took place in one of the towers here, so obviously according to his theory he thinks that there were actually devices that were planted in the building.

One of the secondary devices he thinks that took place after the initial impact he thinks may have been on the plane that crashed into one of the towers. The second device, he thinks, he speculates, was probably planted in the building."

One eyewitness whose office is near the World Trade Center told AFP that he was standing among a crowd of people on Church Street, about two-and-a-half blocks from the South tower, when he saw "a number of brief light sources being emitted from inside the building between floors 10 and 15." He saw about six of these brief flashes, accompanied by "a crackling sound" before the tower collapsed. Each tower had six central support columns. [American Free Press]

Note: See The Oklahoma City Bombing for an explanation of the "crackling sound".

From the Rubble

When the rescue team reached an area directly in front of Tower Two, Antonio said he'd take over the equipment cart Will had pushed from Building 5. [...] The team moved ahead. Scant minutes passed. Suddenly the hallway began to shudder as a terrible deafening roar swept over them. That's when Will saw the giant fireball explode in the street.

Four survived by ignoring words of advice

As he left the building, [Ronald DiFrancesco] saw a fireball rolling toward him. He put his arms in front of his face. He woke up three days later at St. Vincent's hospital. His arms were burned. Some bones were broken. His lungs were singed. But he was alive -- the last person out of the south tower.

Photojournalists at Ground Zero

David Handschuh: "Instinctively I lifted the camera up, and something took over that probably saved my life. And that was to run rather than take pictures. I got down to the end of the block and turned the corner when a wave — a hot, solid, black wave of heat threw me down the block. It literally picked me up off my feet, and I wound up about a block away". "Handschuh was thrown under a vehicle, which probably saved him from the falling debris, he said," according to the PDNonline story.

Don Halasy: "As I turned to run, a wall of warm air came barrelling toward me. I tried to outrace it, but it swept me up and literally blew me into the wall of a building. By the time I regained my footing, a hailstorm of debris was falling from the sky."

Trusses failing on floors 70+ of WTC 2, a building containing a minimal amount of fire, would not have caused a major explosion at the building's base.

The above eyewitness accounts are corroborated by the 9/11 firefighters' transmissions on this page. Other firefighters also talk of an explosion before the collapse of WTC 1:

911 Tapes Tell Horror Of 9/11

  • Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we've just had another explosion.
  • Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we've had additional explosion.
  • Dispatcher: Received battalion command. Additional explosion.
  • [...]
  • Dispatcher: Battalion 5, be advised we're trying to contact Battalion 3 at this moment to report north tower just collapsed.

'Everyone was screaming, crying, running. It's like a war zone'

In New York, police and fire officials were carrying out the first wave of evacuations when the first of the World Trade Centre towers collapsed. Some eyewitnesses reported hearing another explosion just before the structure crumbled. Police said that it looked almost like a "planned implosion" designed to catch bystanders watching from the street.

An Eye-Witness Account of the World Trade Center Attacks
from Neil deGrasse Tyson

The following is taken from an email Neil deGrasse Tyson sent to his family and friends on 12 September 2001. Neil witnessed the attacks on the twin towers from his apartment only six blocks from the World Trade Center.

"As more and more and more and more and more emergency vehicles descended on the World Trade Center, I hear a second explosion in WTC 2, then a loud, low-frequency rumble that precipitates the unthinkable -- a collapse of all the floors above the point of explosion. First the top surface, containing the helipad, tips sideways in full view. Then the upper floors fall straight down in a demolition-style implosion, taking all lower floors with it, even those below the point of the explosion."

"I decide it's time to get my daughter, who was taken by the parents of a friend of hers to a small office building, six blocks farther from the WTC than my apartment. As I dress for survival: boots, flashlight, wet towels, swimming goggles, bicycle helmet, gloves, I hear another explosion followed by a now all-too familiar rumble that signaled the collapse of WTC 1, the first of the two towers to have been hit. I saw the iconic antenna on this building descend straight down in an implosion twinning the first."

TCM Breaking News
Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Third explosion at World Trade Centre

2:59:08 PM [GMT]

A huge explosion has occurred at the second of the two twin towers hit by planes in New York.

The tower is now covered in smoke.

Part of second tower collapses

3:02:21 PM [GMT]

There are reports that a part of the second tower has collapsed after the new explosion.

CNN live report:
WTC 2 collapse
Streamed RealMedia

"There has just been a huge explosion"

Minute by Minute with the Broadcast News

ABC shows video of the southern tower of the WTC folding, noting it happened just moments ago. “My God, “ says Jennings, “We’re talking about massive casualties.” Jennings begins to speculate that in order to demolish a building, there must be detonation at its base. He seems to be suggesting further bombs. Reporter Don Dahler steps in to change the direction of the thinking, “The top part was totally involved…the weight at the top collapsed the building…there was no explosion at the bottom.”


Peter Jennings says “I’m still confused about what caused the building to collapse,” over powerful, close up video of the first tower breaking apart and falling.

Ottawa Citizen Timeline of Chaos

9:59 a.m. Reports of another huge explosion, the third at the WTC. A "cascade of fire and sparks" as one of the towers collapses and disappears from the skyline.

He was on the 81st Floor of Two World Trade Center

"I was almost out. I got down to the lobby, right near the Border’s book store. And then there was this explosion. I don’t know, I just got thrown to the ground and all this stuff fell on top of me."

9/11 Survivor Stories: Sujo & Mini

"So they escorted us thru the exit of World Trade 2 and I had just reached the revolving door of the building that I heard a loud explosion and the whole building collapsed. [...] When that explosion took place and the building was crumbling over me I could see the pics of my wife, my parents, grandmother loved ones flash thru my mind and now what a relief that we are alive."

See also: The 9/11 WTC Collapses: An Audio-Video Analysis

What Really Happened

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