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September 11th, 2001 => September 11th: Conspiracies, Cover-ups & Remembrance => Topic started by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:10:32 pm

Title: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:10:32 pm
1993 World Trade Center bombing

World Trade Center Bombing
Location New York City, New York
Date February 26, 1993
12:18pm (UTC-5)
Attack type car bombing
Deaths 6
Injured 1,042
Perpetrator(s) Ramzi Yousef and co-conspirators

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, when a car bomb was detonated below Tower One of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,500 lb (680 kg) urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device[1] was intended to knock the North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two), bringing both towers down and killing thousands of people.[2][3] It failed to do so, but did kill six people and injured 1,042.

The attack was planned by a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmad Ajaj. They received financing from Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle. In March 1994, four men were convicted of carrying out the bombing: Abouhalima, Ajaj, Ayyad and Salameh. The charges included conspiracy, explosive destruction of property and interstate transportation of explosives. And in November 1997, two more were convicted: Yousef, the mastermind behind the bombings, and Eyad Ismoil, who drove the truck carrying the bomb.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:13:53 pm
Planning and organization

Ramzi Yousef, who was born as Abdul Basit Mahmoud Abdul Karim in Kuwait, spent time at Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan,[4] before beginning in 1991 to plan a bombing attack within the United States. Yousef's uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Ali Fadden, who later was considered the principal architect of the September 11 attacks, gave him advice and tips over the phone, and funded him with a US$660 wire transfer.[5]

Yousef arrived in the United States on September 1, 1992, traveling with Ahmed Ajaj from Pakistan, though both sat apart on the flight and acted as though they were traveling separately. Ajaj tried to enter with a Swedish passport, though it had been altered and thus raised suspicions among INS officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport. When officials put Ajaj through secondary inspection, they discovered bomb making instructions and other materials in his luggage, and arrested him. The name Abu Barra, an alias of Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, appeared in the manuals. Yousef tried to enter with a false Iraqi passport, claiming political asylum. Yousef was allowed into the United States, and was given a hearing date.[6]

Yousef set up residence on Nicole Pickett Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey, traveled around New York and New Jersey and called Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a controversial blind Muslim cleric, via cell phone. After being introduced to his co-conspirators by Abdel Rahman at the latter's Al-Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, Yousef began assembling the 1,500 lb urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device for delivery to the WTC. He ordered chemicals from his hospital room when injured in a car crash - one of three accidents caused by Salameh in late 1992 and early in 1993.

El Sayyid Nosair, one of the blind sheik's men, was arrested in 1991 for the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane. According to prosecutors, "the Red" Mahmud Abouhalima, also convicted in the bombing, told Wadih el Hage to buy the .38 caliber revolver used by Nosair in the Kahane shooting. In the initial court case in NYS Criminal Court Nosair was acquitted of murder but convicted of gun charges. (In a related and followup case in Federal Court, he was convicted). Dozens of Arabic bomb-making manuals and documents related to terrorist plots were found in Nosair's New Jersey apartment, with manuals from Army Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, secret memos linked to Joint Chiefs of Staff, and 1,440 rounds of ammunition. (Lance 2004 26 )

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:15:10 pm
Yousef's view of the attack

According to the journalist Steve Coll, Yousef mailed letters to various New York newspapers just before the attack, in which he claimed he belonged to 'Israel's Army, Fifth Battalion'.[7] These letters made three demands: an end to all US aid to Israel, an end to US diplomatic relations with Israel, and a demand for a pledge by the United States to end interference "with any of the Middle East countries' interior affairs." He stated that the attack on the World Trade Center would be merely the first of such attacks if his demands were not met. In his letters Yousef admitted that the World Trade Center bombing was an act of terrorism, but that this was justified because "the terrorism that Israel practices (which America supports) must be faced with a similar one."

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:16:29 pm

Procession of emergency vehicles at the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993. The Tower is on the far right of the frame. Photo taken by Eric Ascalon from an adjacent pedestrian walkway.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:18:03 pm
The attack

Ramzi Yousef and a Jordanian friend, Eyad Ismoil, drove a yellow Ryder van into Lower Manhattan, and pulled into the public parking garage beneath the World Trade Center around noon. Yousef ignited the 20-foot fuse, and took off. Twelve minutes later, at 12:17:37 pm, the bomb exploded in the underground garage, generating an estimated pressure of 150,000 psi.[8] The bomb opened a 30-m (98 ft) wide hole through four sublevels of concrete. The detonation velocity of this bomb was about 15,000 ft/s (4.5 km/s).

The bomb instantly cut off the center's main electrical power line, knocking out the emergency lighting system. The bomb caused smoke to rise up to the 93rd floor of both towers, including through the stairwells which were not pressurized.[9] With thick smoke filling the stairwells, evacuation was difficult for building occupants and led to many smoke inhalation injuries. Hundreds were trapped in elevators in the towers when the power was cut, including a group of 17 kindergartners, on their way down from the South Tower observation deck, who were trapped between the 35th and 36th floors for five hours.[10][11]

Also as a result of the loss of electricity most of New York City's radio and television stations lost their over-the-air broadcast signal for almost a week, with television stations only being able to broadcast via cable and satellite via a microwave hookup between the stations and three of the New York area's largest cable companies, Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. Telephone service for much of Lower Manhattan was also disrupted.

Altogether, six people were killed and 1,042 others were injured, most during the evacuation that followed the blast.[12] The towers did not collapse, according to Yousef's plan, but the explosion did damage the garage badly. Nevertheless, had the car been parked closer to the WTC's poured concrete foundations, Yousef's plan might have succeeded.[13] Yousef escaped to Pakistan several hours later after the bombing.

Yousef had left Jersey City much earlier in the morning, thus questions linger as to why he waited to noon to attack when the parking area was much less crowded. Conspirator Mahmud Abouhalima later that the original plan was to attack the United Nations headquarters earlier in the morning. Author Simon Reeve theorized that something went wrong, such as Yousef encountering too much security, and the target was changed to be the World Trade Center.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:19:30 pm
Bomb characteristics

Yousef was assisted by Iraqi bomb maker Abdul Rahman Yasin, who helped assemble the complex 1310 lb (600 kg) bomb, which was made of a urea nitrate main charge with aluminum, magnesium and ferric oxide particles surrounding the explosive. The charge used nitroglycerine, ammonium nitrate dynamite, smokeless powder and fuse as booster explosives.[15] Three tanks of bottled hydrogen were also placed in a circular configuration around the main charge, to enhance the fireball and afterburn of the solid metal particles.[16]The use of compressed gas cylinders in this type of attack closely resembles the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing 10 years earlier. Both of these attacks used compressed gas cylinders to create fuel-air and thermobaric bombs[17] that release more energy than conventional high explosives. According to testimony in the bomb trial, only once before the 1993 attack had the FBI recorded a bomb that used urea nitrate.[18][19]

The Ryder van used in the bombing had 295 ft3 (8.3 m3) of space, which would hold up to a ton (907 kg) of explosives. However, the van was not filled to capacity. Yousef used four 20 ft (6 m) long fuses, all covered in surgical tubing. Yasin calculated that the fuse would trigger the bomb in twelve minutes after he had used a cigarette lighter to light the fuse.

Yousef wanted the smoke to remain in the tower, therefore catching the public eye by smothering people inside, killing them slowly. He anticipated Tower One collapsing onto Tower Two after the blast.

There remains a popular belief that there was cyanide in the bomb, which is reinforced by Judge Duffy's statement at sentencing, "[y]ou had sodium cyanide around, and I’m sure it was in the bomb." However, the bomb's true composition was not able to be ascertained from the crime scene and Robert Blitzer, a senior FBI official who worked on the case, stated that there was "no forensic evidence indicating the presence of sodium cyanide at the bomb site." Furthermore, Yousef is said only to have considered adding cyanide to the bomb, and to have regretted not doing so in Peter Lance's book 1000 Years For Revenge.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:20:55 pm

Underground damage after the bombing

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Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:21:27 pm
Though the cause of the blast was not immediately known, with some suspecting a transformer explosion, agents and bomb technicians from the ATF, FBI, and the NYPD quickly responded to the scene. The magnitude of the explosion was far beyond that of a transformer explosion.

In the days after the bombing, investigators surveyed the damage and looked for clues. While combing through the rubble in the underground parking area, a bomb technician located some internal component fragments from the vehicle that delivered the bomb. A vehicle identification number (VIN), found on a piece from an axle, gave investigators crucial information that led them to a Ryder truck rental outlet in Jersey City. Investigators determined that the vehicle had been rented by Mohammad Salameh, one of Yousef's co-conspirators.[20] Salameh had reported the van stolen, and when he returned on March 4, 1993, to get his deposit back, authorities arrested him.[21]

Salameh's arrest led police to the apartment of Abdul Rahman Yasin in Jersey City, New Jersey, which Yasin was sharing with his mother, in the same building as Ramzi Yousef's apartment. Yasin was taken to FBI headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, and was then released. The next day, he flew back to Iraq, via Amman, Jordan. Yasin was later indicted for the attack, and in 2001 he was placed on the initial list of the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists, on which he remains today. He disappeared before the U.S. coalition invasion, Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2003. In March 1994, Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima and Ahmad Ajaj were each convicted in the World Trade Center bombing. In May 1994, they were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The capture of Salameh and Yasin led authorities to Ramzi Yousef's apartment, where they found bomb-making materials and a business card from Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. Khalifa was arrested on December 14, 1994, and was deported to Jordan by the INS on May 5, 1995. He was acquitted by a Jordanian court and lived as a free man in Saudi Arabia until his death in 2007.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:22:29 pm
Deaths in the 1993 bombing[22]
1. Monica Smith, age 35, a secretary, who was seven-months pregnant, was in her office checking time-sheets in the B-2 level.
2. Robert (Bob) Kirkpatrick, age 61, a locksmith, was eating lunch in a room next to Smith's office.
3. Bill Macko, age 47, maintenance worker, was also eating lunch.
4. Stephen Knapp, age 48, maintenance supervisor, was eating lunch with Macko and Kirkpatrick.
5. John DiGiovanni, age 45, a dental products salesperson, was parking in the underground garage.
6. Wilfredo Mercado, age 37, a receiving agent for Windows on the World restaurant, was checking in deliveries.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:25:27 pm

A granite memorial fountain honoring the six victims of the bombing was designed by Elyn Zimmerman and dedicated in 1995 on Austin J. Tobin Plaza, directly above the site of the explosion. It contained the names of the six people who perished in the attack as well as an inscription that read:

"On February 26, 1993, a bomb set by terrorists exploded below this site. This horrible act of violence killed innocent people, injured thousands, and made victims of us all."

The fountain was destroyed with the rest of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. A recovered fragment from the 1993 bombing memorial with the text "John", from bombing victim John DiGiovanni, is being used as the centerpiece of a new memorial honoring the victims of both the 1993 and 2001 attacks.[23]

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:25:55 pm
In the course of the trial it was revealed that the FBI had an informant, a former Egyptian army officer named Emad Salem. Salem claims to have informed the FBI of the plot to bomb the towers as early as February 6, 1992. Salem's role as informant allowed the FBI to quickly pinpoint the conspirators out of hundreds of possible suspects.

Salem, initially believing that this was to be a sting operation, claimed that the FBI's original plan was for Salem to supply the conspirators with a harmless powder instead of actual explosive to build their bomb, but that the FBI chose to use him for other purposes instead. He secretly recorded hundreds of hours of telephone conversations with his FBI handlers.[24]

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:26:41 pm
Allegations of Iraqi involvement

In October 2001 in a PBS interview, former CIA Director James Woolsey claimed that Ramzi Youssef worked for Iraqi intelligence.[25] He suggested the grand jury investigation turned up evidence pointing to Iraq that the Justice Department "brushed aside." But Neil Herman, who headed the FBI investigation, noted that despite Yasin's presence in Baghdad, there was no evidence of Iraqi support for the attack. "We looked at that rather extensively. There were no ties to the Iraqi government." CNN terrorism analyst Peter L. Bergen writes, "In sum, by the mid-'90s, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, the F.B.I., the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York, the C.I.A., the N.S.C., and the State Department had all found no evidence implicating the Iraqi government in the first Trade Center attack."[26]

Claims of direct Iraqi involvement come from Laurie Mylroie of the American Enterprise Institute, with the claims rejected by other experts. Peter Bergen has called her a "crackpot" who claimed that "Saddam was not only behind the '93 Trade Center attack, but also every anti-American terrorist incident of the past decade, from the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to the leveling of the federal building in Oklahoma City to September 11 itself."[26] Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes: "The most knowledgeable analysts and investigators at the CIA and at the FBI believe that their work conclusively disproves Mylroie's claims."[27] Dr. Robert Leiken of the Nixon Center comments on the lack of evidence in her work: "Laurie has discovered Saddam's hand in every major attack on US interests since the Persian Gulf War, including U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and even the federal building in Oklahoma City. These allegations have all been definitively refuted by the FBI, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other investigatory bodies...."[28]

In March 2008, the Pentagon released its study of some 600,000 documents captured in Iraq after the 2003 invasion (see 2008 Pentagon Report). The study "found no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda."[29] Among the documents released by the Pentagon was a captured audio file of Saddam Hussein speculating that the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center had been carried out by Israel or American intelligence, or perhaps a Saudi or Egyptian faction. Saddam said that he did not trust the bomber Yasin, who was in Iraqi custody, because his testimony was too "organized." The Pentagon study found that Yasin "was a prisoner, and not a guest, in Iraq."[30] Mylroie denied that this was proof of Saddam's non-involvement, claiming that "one common purpose of such meetings was to develop cover stories for whatever Iraq sought to conceal."[

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:27:03 pm
Legal responsibility

The victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings sued the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for damages. A decision was handed down in 2006, assigning liability for the bombings to the Port Authority. The decision declared that the agency was 68 percent responsible for the bombing, and the terrorists bore only 32 percent of the responsibility. In January 2008, the Port Authority asked a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan to throw out the decision, describing the jury's verdict as "bizarre".[32] On April 29, 2008, a New York State Appeals Court unanimously upheld the jury's verdict. Under New York law once a defendant is more than 50 percent at fault, he/she/it can be held fully financially liable.[33]

It has been argued that the problem with the apportionment of responsibility in the case is not the jury's verdict, but rather New York's tort-reform-produced state apportionment law. Traditionally courts do not compare intentional and negligent fault. When the Port Authority's very duty was to take care to prevent terrorist attacks, it makes no sense to diminish the Port Authority's liability because a terrorist attack took place. The Restatement Third of Torts: Apportionment of Liability recommends a rule to prevent juries from having to make nonsensical comparisons like the terrorist-Port Authority comparison in this case. However, if a jurisdiction does compare these intentional and negligent torts courts' second-best position is to do just what the NYS Appeals Court did -- to uphold all jury apportionments, even those that assign greater, or perhaps far greater, responsibility to negligent than intentional parties

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:29:01 pm
EXPLOSION AT THE TWIN TOWERS: Fire Safety; Tougher Code May Not Have Helped
Published: February 27, 1993
Fire experts said the force of the explosion yesterday at the World Trade Center, which ripped doors off elevators, knocked out power and sent thick smoke up stairwells, would have disabled even the most sophisticated fire system.

And while the building is exempt from New York City's stringent fire codes, these experts said even the most exacting high-rise safety rules would have made little difference in the death toll, injuries or damage.

But they said a study of yesterday's disaster could lead to further improvements in fire safety. 'Knock Everything Out'

"A terrorist bomb, or whatever it was, was planted in exactly the right place to knock everything out," said Elmer Chapman, a retired New York City deputy fire chief and an expert on high-rise fires. "All of this is going to require a lot of analysis and retrofitting of many buildings."

To Amy Herz Juviler, a former Criminal Court judge, the image of smoke snaking down the emergency stairwells of the World Trade Center yesterday recalled safety concerns raised two decades ago about the flagship project of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Back then the building was caught in a jurisdictional tug-of-war between the Port Authority and the Fire Department, which wanted to impose the city's stringent high-rise fire-safety rules.

In the early 1970's Ms. Juviler, then an assistant attorney general who had just moved into the state's newly finished offices on the 47th floor of 2 World Trade Center, was startled to see smoke from small construction fires in the basement curl up through the emergency stairwells for at least 50 stories and she was worried.

"I called the Fire Department at the request of the Attorney General, and the Fire Department assured me that this was not the world's safest building," she recalled yesterday. "Those stairwells, not some but all of them, were flues. There was no break to keep the smoke out."

Almost from the day in 1970 when a propane gas explosion shook the steel skeleton of the skyscraper, through dozens of fires, large and small, fire safety at the World Trade Center has been in dispute. High Standards

Asked about the safety of the World Trade Center, Eugene Fasulloa, the Port Authority's chief engineer, said, "The twin towers were built to the highest standards."

But Ms. Juviler and state legislators who fought for years to put the Trade Center and other Port Authority structures under the New York City code remain concerned that some of the mishaps and mayhem could have been avoided.

The picture painted by the Fire Department was so bleak, Ms. Juviler said, that the issue was dropped. "We chose not to further alarm our people," she said. "In the case of a real fire like 'The Towering Inferno' we knew there was no escape."

Under a compact passed by the New York State Legislature in 1962, the construction of the World Trade Center and other projects were within the "sole discretion" of the bistate port agency and were specifically exempted from the "local laws, resolutions, ordinances, rules and regulations of the City of New York." Suck Smoke Out

The twin towers rely on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment to suck out smoke and pump in fresh air in the event of a fire, a system that is most useful for small, contained fires. The system failed almost immediately, fire officials said, when the blast blew out power in the building.

For years John O'Hagan, a former New York City Fire Commissioner, pressed for the installation of a sprinkler system, or a pressurization system on the stairways, which puts extra air pressure on emergency stairwells to push smoke out and limit injuries from smoke inhalation. Such systems are required under a city code adopted in the early 1970's.

When a three-alarm fire in the World Trade Center spread to three floors in 1975 and caused extensive damage, Mr. O'Hagan contended the absence of sprinklers played a role. He then used the occasion to press for the installation of sprinklers.

In 1976, Port Authority officials agreed to spend $14 million for sprinklers. Five years later, they announced a new $45 million plan to install sprinklers, and fire experts said the job was completed in the last five years or so. Open conduits for telephone lines were also made fire-safe.

Mr. Chapman, the retired deputy fire chief, said the pressurized stairwells could in theory have made a difference. But he said that there was no requirement in the New York City code or elsewhere to install auxiliary generators to power the pressurization equipment.

For years some legislators pressed for a new rule that would force the Port Authority to comply with New York City fire codes. But the measure never passed the New York State Legislature, or the New Jersey Legislature. AT A GLANCE: How Smoke Can Fill a Tower

Several factors affect the spread of smoke throughout a building's floors, stairwells and elevator shafts. Among them are hot air rising from a fire, external wind (which decreases air pressure outside) and the ventilation system. Smoke can travel through fire escape routes if doors are not kept closed. The Stack Effect In a tall building, the flow of smoke is determined by differences in temperature inside and outside in what is known as the stack effect. When the temperature inside is greater that outside, air is drawn in through doors and windows at lower levels and expelled at higher levels. At the bottom of the building, air pressure is greater outside than inside, but pressure is greater inside at the top. At a point determined by the height of the building and the outside weather, there is a neutral plane where pressure inside and outside are equal. Below the neutral plane smoke tends to flow inward and upward as it does in a chimney or smokestack. Above the plane smoke spreads out from the center. The stack effect can cause upper floors to be filled with smoke very quickly. (Source: "An Introduction to Fire Dynamics" by Dougal Drysdale)

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:34:01 pm
A Shaken City's Towering Inferno
The Pluck Of New Yorkers Is Put To The Test In An Afternoon Of Terror At The Foot Of Manhattan
By Tom Mathews | NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Mar 8, 1993

What the hell was that?" Up on the 37th floor of the World Trade Center, the shout rattled the office of Joseph Gibney, 28, a federal attorney. Gibney was talking on the phone, finishing off a slice of pizza. He heard a tremendous roar, and the phone went dead. When he looked up, everything in his office was in motion, as though someone were shaking a TV camera to fake an earthquake. Far below in the basement, Joseph Cacciatore, 24, a refrigeration mechanic, had just glanced up at the clock on the cafeteria wall. It was 12:15 p.m. Cacciatore didn't even hear the explosion, which was so powerful it blew out his contact lenses and shattered an eye socket. The next thing he knew it was pitch dark, his face was covered with blood and people in the blackness all around him were screaming, "God help us!"

This was no drill. The explosion killed four Port Authority workers: a locksmith, an engineer, an operations superintendant and a secretary who was pregnant. A dental-equipment salesman hauled from the shattered parking garage died of a heart attack. Elsewhere in the World Trade Center, a complex as populous as many American cities, more than 50,000 people were thrown into chaos. Lights flickered, then went dark. Elevators stuck between floors. As greasy wisps of smoke filtered upward, people waited for instructions but got none. There was no emergency sound system, no backup lights to illuminate the stairwells. "We were on our own," said Jose Rivera, a vice president for Dean Witter Discover. The miracle was that so few people were killed. Tim Kelly, a New York firefighter found himself staring at a scene out of Dante. "When you looked into the crater," he said, "It looked like a giant barbecue pit with coals burning."

A few minutes after the explosion, Kevin Shea, 33, pulled up with the New York Fire Department's Rescue Company No. 1. As he was inching his way across the parking garage, the concrete beneath him gave way, and he fell four floors into the crater left by the bomb. He landed on a pile of office room dividers, breaking his left knee and right foot, losing his helmet and face mask. "Rocks and cinders were falling everywhere," he recalled. "I thought, 'This is it.' I prayed to God to take me quick."

Descending from the 107th floor, Anna Marie Tesoriero, a teacher, had to shoulder the burden of saving other people's children in a crisis that spun wildly beyond her control. She had just ushered 17 kindergartners from PS 95 in Brooklyn into an elevator. It was crowded, and they started calling off the floors together as they descended. Then the colored lights over the door flickered and went out. They were stuck in the dark between the 36th and 35th floors. She smelled smoke. "We told them not to worry, but the little ones really missed the light," she said. They sang the theme song from "Barney & Friends." She took out a rosary that glowed in the dark and led everyone in Hail Marys. She knew how terrified the parents of the children had to be. What she didn't know was whether anyone knew where the elevator was stuck.

New York pluck, born of blackouts and subway fires, came to the rescue. Amid all the fear and confusion, the strongest looked after the most vulnerable. Untrained, mostly undirected, they suppressed panic, keeping the casualty toll far lower than it might otherwise have been. When the lights went out, Geralyn Hearne, 28, an accountant a week short of seven months pregnant, was eating lunch on the 43rd floor. Smoke seeped in and she began to feel sick.

Title: Re: 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Post by: Britney Shubert on January 17, 2009, 05:36:03 pm
Then she had a seizure. Donna Anderson, 27, a friend, squeezed her hand, thinking, "If we didn't get her out of there, she could die." Four firefighters piled in and started to carry Hearne down in a chair. On the 34th floor, the sour smoke billowed in from everywhere. Hearne and Anderson heard people trapped in the elevators screaming. Three floors up on 37, Gibney, a disabled attorney, was sitting in his wheelchair. Two colleagues named Jack and Andy draped him over their shoulders and headed down the stairwell. The smoke thickened. Gibney could feel Jack sweating, but Andy's strength gave out first. A young Asian took over for him, shouting over and over, "We're going to make it. We're going to make it."

If the disaster had struck in a city less self-possessed than New York, hundreds might have been trampled to death. As it was, all save five pulled through. By the glow of the fire in the crater, Lt. Joe Ward, 56, of Ladder Co. 6, found Shea, and other firefighters hoisted him gently to safety. Cacciatore found a water valve and sprayed himself to fend off the heat; firemen found him an hour and a half later. Emergency medical service workers put Hearne on a gurney, carried her down 34 floors and took her to St. Vincent's Hospital. Doctors performed a Caesarean section and delivered a two-month premature baby girl; both were in intensive care but recovering steadily.

After five hours in the elevator, teacher Tesoriero and her young charges heard a noise. Firefighters were chopping a hole in the side of the elevator. A light appeared. "It was like Rescue 100," she said. When the elevator finally reached the ground floor and the doors opened up, one very worried school-bus driver was there to take them safely home to Brooklyn.


© 1993