A decade has passed since the shocking events of 9/11, and while certain facts about 9/11 are still debated, it is widely known that a group of terrorists working for al-Qaeda hijacked four domestic US flights, and conducted four suicide attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a failed attempt on the White House or Capitol Hill, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The premeditated attacks killed an estimated 3,000 people, with thousands more injured.
9/11 was one of the single largest events in modern human history, and everyone knows where they were when they first heard of the attacks. While the event is heartbreaking for those who were involved, here are 10 Interesting Facts About 9/11 that you may not have known.
1. One person escaped the towers with seconds to spare
A Canadian man, Ron DiFrancesco, was trying to escape from the South Tower after the North Tower had been attacked, when the second hijacked plane struck between floor 77 and floor 85 of the South Tower. The blast threw him against the wall upon impact, however, he managed to descend to the ground floor from floor 81 in the same time the building was left standing after the attack, and it collapsed behind him as he escaped from the building.
DiFrancesco became engulfed in fire and debris, and awoke a few days later in hospital with severe burns, cuts and a broken back. His escape is nonetheless incredible, and he is one of only four people to escape from the 81st floor of the South Tower.
2. Twenty people survived the collapse of the WTC
Research conducted on 9/11 survivors has found that twenty individuals were rescued from the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center. Two Port Authority policemen, John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, were rescued alive from the rubble, and were found buried in debris around an elevator, after being trapped there for 13 and 21 hours respectively. Their miraculous survival made the 2006 film ‘World Trade Center’.
Even more miraculous is the story of Pasquale Buzzelli, who worked for the Port Authority as a structural engineer, who was on the 64th floor of the North Tower when it was attacked. The blast rendered him unconscious for 3 hours, but he awoke post collapse on a bed of rubble with the sky above him. He endured a few broken bones, cuts, bruises and a concussion, but was rescued by rescue workers and made a full recovery. A secretary named Genelle Guzman was on the same floor and was rescued 27 hours after the collapse from just below the surface. These facts about 9/11 present two very lucky people, out of twenty who managed to survive the collapse.
3. British nationals were the second largest group of victims
Over 80 nationalities fell victim to the 9/11 attacks, alongside US nationals, including British, Irish, Japanese, Indian, Mexican and Brazilian. 372 foreign nationalities died, with 67 British nationals falling victim.
4. Another 47-floor building collapsed
Some people know about this and others don’t, but a third skyscraper also collapsed on 9/11 – World Trade Center Building 7 - which was a very large downtown building, close to the World Trade Center. This is one of the facts about 9/11 that went mostly unreported in the media, due to the event paling in comparison to the main attacks, and the fact that a plane did not hit the building.
It is believed that debris from the falling towers fell into WTC Building 7, damaging the building and causing fires to start and spread, which compromised the buildings structural integrity and caused it to collapse. It is amazing that the 9/11 Commission Report states that the event was hardly given any precedent, and that there is very little news on Building 7 after 9/11.
5. Fires went on burning for 99 days
It took a very long time for firefighters to get the fire under control at Ground Zero, and an even longer to extinguish the flames. Fires were eventually extinguished on the 19th of December.
6. 9/11 conspirators send out coded messages on the internet
One of the terrorists organizing the attacks – Abu Abdul Rahman – sent a message to a fellow conspirator online on an internet chat room – Ramzi Binalshibh – only weeks before the attacks.
Apparently, the message reads:
“The first semester commences in three weeks. Two high schools and two universities…This summer will surely be hot…19 certificates for private education and four exams. Regards to the professor. Goodbye.”
It is fairly clear which parts of the message relate to which parts of the terrorist operation, with the high schools representing the Towers and universities representing the political targets in DC. 19 was the number of hijackers and the exams were the planes. It was also revealed by CNN that in the weeks before 9/11, each building acquired a team and a code name. The US Capitol building was named ‘The Faculty of Law;’ with the Pentagon renamed ‘The Faculty of Fine Arts;’ and the North Tower named as ‘The Faculty of Town Planning.’
7. A very unfortunate firm lost two thirds of its workforce
Cantor Fitzgerald – a financial services firm – was the business most affected by the attacks on 9/11. Its base of operations was on the 101st and 105th floors at One World Trade Centre, and after the attacks the firm has lost 658 out of its total hired 960 people.
After the attacks, the CEO of Canotr Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, phoned up a colleague and said they could either close the firm, or work their hardest to help the families of the victims. A decade on, the firm has donated over $180 million to the families and the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and is also paying their health care.
8. Steel from the collapsed WTC was re-sold
Americans re-cycled and re-sold the steel from the collapsed buildings, and shipped most of it to India and China. Certain people were horrified at this, claiming that the thousands of tons of steel should be taken as evidence, but mayor Bloomberg responded by saying that a piece of steel will not tell you anything more about what happened on 9/11. Some of the steel was used for memorials across the USA.
9. A plane engine survived the crash
After the attacks, several structural engineers investigated the structural response of the World Trade Center against the plane crashes, and according to the Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA), an engine from a plane which hit the twin towers survived the impact, the explosion, and the collapse of the twin towers.
10. Conspiracy theories are still going strong
One of the discomforting facts about 9/11 is that momentum has gained in support of conspiracy theories, with the finger pointed at the US government. This is without a single piece of evidence to support the claim, and against hundreds of scientific reports, eyewitness accounts and other lines of inquiry which prove that the atrocities of 9/11 are really as simple as they sound.
The only things the theorists have to go on is conjecture, and their benign and well-meaning hunger to find the ‘truth’ is an unfortunate consequence of them not being able to comprehend how something so tangible can cause so much damage, pain, and grief.
10 years on from the 9/11 world changing events, maybe it is time to close this impossible search, and let the victims rest in peace.
Having shared these 10 Interesting Facts About 9/11, AWS would like to share its condolences with everyone who lost someone on that dreadful day.
Our hearts remain strong and true and we will forever remember. The victims of 9/11 will never be forgotten.
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