Newly re­leased aerial pho­tos show World Trade Cen­ter’s col­lapse, af­ter­math

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS -

NEW YORK (AP) — Newly re­leased aerial pho­tos of the World Trade Cen­ter ter­ror at­tack cap­ture the tow­ers’ dra­matic col­lapse, from just af­ter the first fiery plane strike to the apoc­a­lyp­tic dust clouds that spread over lower Man­hat­tan and its har­bour.

The im­ages were taken from a po­lice he­li­copter — the only pho­tog­ra­phers al­lowed in the air space near the tow­ers on Sept. 11, 2001. They were ob­tained by ABC News af­ter it filed a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest last year with the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Stan­dards and Tech­nol­ogy, which in­ves­ti­gated the col­lapse.

The chief cu­ra­tor of the planned Sept. 11 mu­seum, which is com­pil­ing a dig­i­tal archive of at­tack cov­er­age, said the still im­ages are “a phe­nom­e­nal body of work” that show a new, wide-an­gle look at the tow­ers’ col­lapse and the grey dust clouds that shrouded the city af­ter­ward.

The pho­tos are “ab­so­lutely core to un­der­stand­ing the vis­ual phe­nom­ena of what was hap­pen­ing,” said Jan Ramirez, chief cu­ra­tor at the Na­tional Septem­ber 11 Memo­rial&Mu­seum.

The im­ages of the dust clouds ris­ing as high as some down­town sky­scrapers “are some of the most ex­cep­tional im­ages in the world, I think, of this event,” Ramirez said.

ABC said the NIST gave the net­work 2,779 pic­tures on nine CDs, say­ing some of the pho­to­graphs had never been re­leased be­fore.

The net­work posted 12 pho­tos this week on its Web site, all taken by ex-NYPD Avi­a­tion Unit De­tec­tive Greg Se­mendinger, who was first in the air in a search for sur­vivors on the rooftop. He said he and his pi­lot watched the sec­ond plane hit the south tower from the he­li­copter.

“We didn’t find one sin­gle per­son. It was sur­real,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Wed­nes­day. “There was no sound. No sound what­so­ever, but the noise of the ra­dio and the he­li­copter. I just kept tak­ing pic­tures.”

He took three rolls of film with his Mi­nolta cam­era, plus 245 dig­i­tal shots. Se­mendinger said he gave the dig­i­tal im­ages to the 9/11 Com­mis­sion and be­lieves those im­ages were re­leased by the NSIT. In the days af­ter the at­tack, he emailed some of the pho­tos to friends and sev­eral were posted on the In­ter­net.

Later, nine of the im­ages were pub­lished in a book called “Above Hal­lowed Ground: A Pho­to­graphic Record of Sept. 11” without his con­sent. The book was a trib­ute to the of­fi­cers who were killed that day.

The pho­tos cap­ture the enor­mous scope of the dust that en­veloped the area.

In some im­ages, the tops of the nearby Wool­worth Build­ing and other sky­scrapers can be seen ris­ing above the bil­low­ing dark plume against a clear blue sky. Build­ings can hardly be seen at all in one im­age — just a burst of dust clouds hang­ing over the serene Hud­son River at the south­ern tip of Man­hat­tan.

A close-up im­age from ear­lier in the morn­ing shows or­ange flames and black smoke ris­ing past the an­tenna on top of the north tower, the first hit by a hi­jacked plane.

Ramirez said the mu­seum, which is slated to open in 2012, saw a se­lec­tion of the pho­tos at po­lice head­quar­ters sev­eral years ago.

They are ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause the NYPD avi­a­tion unit had the clear­ance to be up in the air in lower Man­hat­tan only “mo­ments af­ter the first tower was hit,” and stayed in the area for the re­main­der of the day, she said.

Some­time af­ter 10 a.m., she said they were able to “pre­dict that the north tower was go­ing to fall.” It did just be­fore 10:30 a.m.

Se­mendinger re­tired from the NYPD in 2002 af­ter 35 years, 20 of them in avi­a­tion. He said he has thought about pub­lish­ing his work from those days.

“I al­most didn’t re­al­ize what I was see­ing that day,” he said. “Looking at it now it’s amaz­ing I took those pic­tures. The im­ages are ... stun­ning.”

AP Photo/NYPD, via ABC News, Det. Greg Se­mendinger

In this Sept. 11, 2001 photo made by the New York City Po­lice Depart­ment and pro­vided by ABC News, Tues­day, a World Trade Cen­ter tower im­plodes in New York, af­ter ter­ror­ists flew two air­lin­ers into the tow­ers.

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