Callers in 2nd tower sought advice after first plane struck
(AP) - After a plane struck the first of the twintowers on Sept. 11, 2001, callers from the top floors ofneighboring 2 World Trade Center were told by Port Authority policeto remain where they were.
According to transcripts made public Thursday afternoon, a malecaller from the 92nd floor of the second tower told a PortAuthority police officer, "We need to know if we need to get outof here, because we know there's an explosion."
The officer asked if there was smoke on the floor, and thecaller replied that there was not.
"Should we stay or should we not?" the caller asked.
"I would wait 'til further notice," the officer replied.
"OK, all right," the caller said. "Don't evacuate." He thenhung up. A second, similar call - with the same police response -came in a short time after the 8:46 a.m. crash in the first tower.
No one in the top floors of the tower survived after the secondplane hit around the 80th floor shortly after 9 a.m. The evacuationof 2 World Trade Center, and when it began, has been a source ofsome anguish to relatives of those who died.
The transcripts provide the first look at the extraordinarilydifficult decisions faced by both occupants of the towers and PortAuthority personnel as the struggled to respond to the attack.
"In general, they show people performing their duties veryheroically and very professionally on a day of horror," said PortAuthority spokesman Greg Trevor.
They transcripts contain the final conversations of manyvictims, including 33 Port Authority employees, from the morning ofthe Sept. 11, 2001.
In other calls, a man reached police from the roof of onebuilding, while the assistant manager of Windows on the Worldcalled to report people stranded on the 106th floor. "We needdirection as to where we need to direct our guests and ouremployees, as soon as possible," she says, citing increasingsmoke.
"We're doing our best ... we're trying to get up to you,dear," replied a PA officer. "All right, call back in two orthree minutes, and I'll try to find out what direction you shouldtry to get down."
There were also accounts of people, in disbelief, calling aboutpeople plunging from the buildings to their deaths.
"Yo, I've got dozens of bodies, people just jumping from thetop of the building onto ... in front of One World Trade," says amale caller. "People. Bodies are just coming from out of the sky.... up top of the building."
"Bodies?" replied a female operator.
The transcripts, about 2,000 pages worth, were created fromtapes of emergency calls and radio transmissions made afterhijacked planes were slammed into the twin towers by al-Qaidaoperatives.
Their release comes two weeks before the second anniversary ofthe attacks that collapsed the twin towers and killed 2,792 people.
Some of the victims identified themselves by name on the tape,while others' voices were recognized by co-workers. The transcriptswill include discussions involving 19 Port Authority policeofficers and 14 civilian workers, along with three people who didnot work for the bistate agency, a spokesman confirmed.
In all, the Port Authority lost 37 police officers and 47civilian employees in the attack.
Some surviving family members were angered or upset by therelease, which followed a court battle between the Port Authorityand the New York Times. Others said the transcripts could providevaluable insight into the tragedy; still others declined to evenview the transcripts before their release to the media.
"It's not that I don't have an interest," said TheresaRiccardelli, whose husband, Francis, was killed. "I can't."
The Port Authority agreed to release the transcripts after a NewJersey judge ruled it was bound to an agreement it made last monthwith The Times.
The Times had initially sought Port Authority tapes, transcriptsand reports on emergency response from that day, but the agencyargued that would be insensitive to the victims' families. A dealwas finally reached where the Port Authority would providetranscripts rather than tapes.
The agency, claiming the transcripts would be offensive to thefamilies, tried to back out of the deal. The authority opted not toappeal the judge's decision.
The transcripts include communications between Port Authoritypolice officers and department employees, along with calls betweencommand centers at the trade center and several sites in NewJersey.
The Port Authority records are not the first recordings of radiotransmissions to be made public. Last year, the agency released a78-minute tape of fire department transmissions that included thevoices of several lost firefighters.
Shortly after the attacks, unofficial tapes and transcripts of911 calls from people in the towers were broadcast and published.
to read direct excerpts from the emergency call transcripts.