RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
9/11 last calls reveal horror

The transcripts, released by court order yesterday, show that callers from the top floors of the second tower were told to stay put after a hijacked plane hit the first tower.

"We need to know if we need to get out of here, because we know there's an explosion," one caller said.

The officer asked if there was smoke on the floor, and the caller 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."

Fifteen minutes later the second plane hit the tower on the 80th floor.

Relatives of the victims have been divided over the transcripts' public release. Not all have seen the transcripts and many fear having to relive the trauma, but others hope that the publication will help them to understand precisely what happened in the final minutes.

Theresa Riccardelli, who lost her husband Francis, declined an offer to read the transcripts. "It's not that I don't have an interest. I can't," she said. "I know the final outcome. My husband didn't get to come home."

The transcripts show both port authority police and those in the towers reacting with what little information they had.

"In general, they show people performing their duties very heroically and very professionally on a day of horror," said a New York port authority spokesman, Greg Trevor.

The transcripts included phone calls and radio transmissions involving 33 port authority employees and three other people. Last week, a judge ordered the port authority to release the transcripts at the request of the New York Times.

In other calls, a man reached police from the roof of one building, while the assistant manager of the Windows on the World restaurant reported people stranded on the 106th floor. "We need direction as to where we need to direct our guests and employees, as soon as possible," she said, citing increasing smoke.

"We're doing our best ... we're trying to get up to you, dear," replied a PA officer. "All right, call back in two or three minutes, and I'll try to find out what direction you should try to get down."

There were also accounts of people, in disbelief, calling about people plunging from the buildings to their deaths.

"I've got dozens of bodies, people just jumping from the top of the building on to ... in front of One World Trade," says a male caller. "People. Bodies are just coming from out of the sky ... up top of the building."

"Bodies?" replied a female operator.

The transcripts are not the first recordings of radio transmissions to be made public. Last year, the agency released a 78-minute tape of fire department transmissions that included the voices of several lost firefighters.

Shortly after the attacks, unofficial tapes and transcripts of emergency calls from people in the towers were broadcast and published.

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
book review
The more power an identity carries, the less likely its carrier is to be aware of it as an identity at all.
 follow on twitter
RT @EthnicityUK: Gary Younge is interviewed by @sonikkalogan about his work on racism and gun violence in @the_hindu #DataPoint podcast. h…
RT @thefreedomi: 🚨 NEW: Saudi women’s rights activist & academic Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in prison + 34 year travel ban f…
RT @LRB: #DawnFosterForever! On Thursday 15 September at the @LRBbookshop, @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanley and @garyyounge will d…
RT @ShowunmiV: This is how we support Black women and girls
RT @sonikkalogan: It's #DataPoint Pod Thursday! In this week's episode, I talk to @noraneus, @garyyounge and @Casey_J_Wooten about the U.S.…
RT @bgnoiseuk: Next month, @LRBbookshop will host an event to celebrate the life and work of Dawn Foster with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lyn…
Help me Twitter. The quote: ""You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming." is most commonly…
RT @the_hindu: #DataPoint | This Thursday, @sonikkalogan takes a look at the #US gun violence epidemic, as mass shootings continue to grow…
City workers get double-digit wage rises while lowest-paid see 1% increase - “Them’s the breaks”
RT @LRBbookshop: On 15 Sept we'll host an evening celebrating the life and work of Dawn Foster, with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanle…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc