9/10/11, "The 9/11 victims America wants to forget: The 200 jumpers who flung themselves from the Twin Towers who have been 'airbrushed from history'," UK Daily Mail, Tom Leonard
"Almost all of them jumped alone, although eyewitnesses talked of a couple who held hands as they fell.
One woman, in a final act of modesty, appeared to be holding down her skirt. Others tried to make parachutes out of curtains or tablecloths, only to have them wrenched from their grip by the force of their descent.
The fall was said to take about ten seconds. It would vary according to the body position and how long it took to reach terminal velocity — around 125mph in most cases, but if someone fell head down with their body straight, as if in a dive, it could be 200mph.
When they hit the pavement, their bodies were not so much broken as obliterated.
Nothing more graphically spells out the horror of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers than the grainy pictures of those poor souls frozen in mid-air as they fell to their deaths, tumbling in all manner of positions, after choosing to escape the suffocating smoke and dust, the flames and the steel-bending heat in the highest floors of the World Trade Centre.
And yet, tragically, they are in many ways the forgotten victims of September 11. Even now, nobody knows for certain who they were or exactly how many they numbered. Perhaps worst of all,
- surprisingly few even want to know.
From the earliest days after the 9/11 attacks, the American establishment and the media showed an overwhelming reluctance to dwell on those who jumped or fell from the Twin Towers....
At the office of the New York chief medical examiner, a spokesman said this week that they did not consider these people ‘jumpers’. She insisted they fell from the 1,350ft tall, 110-floor skyscrapers, for jumping would imply suicide.
‘Jumping indicates a choice, and these people did not have that choice,’ she said. ‘That is why the deaths were ruled homicide, because the actions of other people caused them to die. The force of explosion and the fire behind them forced them out of the windows.’...
Unofficial estimates put the number of jumpers at around 200, but it is impossible to say for certain because their bodies were indistinguishable from others after the collapse of the Towers. The official account is that nearly all 2,753 victims in the Twin Towers attack officially died from ‘blunt impact’ injuries.
Ten years on, more than 1,000 have yet to be identified from remains. They were vaporised in the inferno.
After the planes hit, raging fires pushed the temperatures to 1,000c, sufficient to
- weaken the skyscrapers’ steel frames.
The metal conducted the heat through the building at a terrifying speed and it reached the upper floors long before the flames did.
There were reports of people having to stand on desks because the floor became so hot.
Fire experts say people rarely throw themselves out of burning high-rises until they have exhausted every other option. Indeed, as survivors desperate for fresh, cool air crowded at the windows smashed open by the force of the planes’ impact, it is possible some of the ‘jumpers’ were actually pushed out in the crush.
The only research that comes close to being an official account is buried deep in an appendix of the huge report into why the towers collapsed, conducted by the
- National Institute for Standards and Technology.
As part of its research into where the fire was at its most intense, NIST analysed camera footage and still photographs, and counted 104 jumpers, often recording the floor and exact window from which they left.
All but three leapt from the first building to be hit — the North Tower. The second plane struck the South Tower 16 minutes later but it collapsed first, giving occupants less time to react.
The first jumper is recorded plunging from the North Tower’s 149th window of the 93rd floor on the north face of the building at 8.51am, just over four minutes after it was hit by the first hijacked Boeing 757 between the 93rd and 99th floors.
At least four jumpers tried to climb to other windows for safety then lost their grip. One person climbed from the 93rd floor to the 92nd, clinging to the window’s edge before falling just one second after someone else plumetted from the same window — number 215 on the east face of the tower.
The early jumpers came from the crash zone where the plane entered the building — the
- offices of the insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan.
The last jumper fell just as the North Tower collapsed 102 minutes after the building had been hit. Photographer Richard Drew says he has a picture of this person
- clinging to some debris while falling.
What drove some to jump and others to remain? Those who were in the South Tower, just 120ft away, at the time — and managed to escape — had the clearest view and may provide the best insight.
Kelly Reyher watched from the South Tower’s 78th floor as people started to fall out of ‘the hole’ the aircraft had ripped in the North Tower. To him, they looked ‘completely confused’ rather than consciously deciding to end it all.
‘It looked like they were blinded by smoke and couldn’t breathe because their hands were over their faces,’ he says. ‘They would just walk to the edge where the jagged floor was and just fall out.’
Six floors below Mr Reyher, James Logozzo watched with stunned colleagues from the Morgan Stanley boardroom. He recalled that it took three or four jumpers to flash past him before he realised they were people. Then a woman fell, lying flat on her back and staring upwards. ‘The look on her face was shock. She wasn’t screaming,’ he recalled. ‘It was slow motion. After she hit the ground, there was nothing left.’