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Following demolition of Twin Towers in Noida, a look back at collapse of World Trade Centre towers on 9/11 and the long-term health impact of such a cloud of dust

Reportedly, about 1000 first responders of the September 11 attacks have been diagnosed with cancer since that fateful day.

The 21st anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks is just around the corner. On the fateful day of September 11, 2001, radical Islamist outfit Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, struck terror in the heart of the United States of America.

A total of 19 terrorists hijacked 4 different jetliners, with the intention to carry out targeted suicide attacks. Their motive was to hit prominent buildings, inflict maximum damage and cause mass casualties.

As part of their sinister plan, the Los Angeles-bound American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked by 5 Al-Qaeda terrorists. Led by terrorist Mohamed Atta, they took control of the flight mid-air. The hijacked plane was then manoeuvred to crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre (WTC) at 8:46 am (US Eastern Time). The collision severely impacted the North Tower between 94th and 99th floor, leading to a whopping 1600 deaths.

Originally built in 1973, the 1368 feet building suffered a progressive collapse. “The extraordinary robustness and redundancy of the building’s structural system meant that although a giant gash now ran across much of the north wall — severing no fewer than 35 of that wall’s 59 columns — the structure managed to redistribute the load to undamaged columns on either side of the opening, maintaining its integrity,” read a report by PBS.

However, after standing tall for 102 minutes, the North Tower came crashing down at 10:28 am (US Eastern Time). Leslie Robertson, the structural engineer behind the WTC project, told BBC that a possible jetliner crash was accounted for during the construction of the building.

However, he regretted that the original design did not take into consideration the impact of fuel spillage from such a crash. “We had designed the project for the impact of the largest aeroplane of its time, the Boeing 707. The 767 that actually hit the WTC was quite another matter again,” Robertson emphasised.

He added, “First of all it was a bit heavier than the 707, not very much heavier, but a bit heavier. But mostly it was flying a lot faster. And then of course with the 707 to the best of my knowledge, the fuel load was not considered in the design, and indeed I don’t know how it could have been considered.”

Another jetliner, United Airlines Flight 175, hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed into the 1362 feet South Tower of the World Trade Centre at 9:03 am (US Eastern Time) on September 11, 2011. It caused massive damage between the 77th and 85th floors.

The second attack took place just 17 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 rammed into the North Tower. However, the high-rise building collapsed within 56 minutes at 9:59 am (earlier than the collapse of the North tower). It led to the deaths of an additional 900 people.

Health impact of the Twin Tower collapse

Although the official death toll of the 9/11 attack stands at around 3000, thousands of survivors and first responders continue to suffer from lung diseases and other ailments. This is due to the exposure to the construction rubble and air-borne toxic chemical mix in the aftermath of the collapse of the Twin Towers.

“The destruction of the twin towers incinerated glass, computers, heating and air conditioning systems, fluorescent lighting and other electrical equipment, steel, cement, and drywall, as well as human remains. The dust and smoke contained asbestos fibre, heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins among other poisons,” read a report in Lancet.

There have been more than 2000 deaths, which have been linked to exposure to World Trade Centre Dust (WTCD). Reportedly, about 1000 first responders of the September 11 attacks have been diagnosed with cancer since that fateful day.

The police, firefighters, and volunteers who inhaled the chemical fumes, thick dust and smoke arising from the collapsed Twin Towers are 30% more prone to developing cancer than the general population.

Professor Brian W. Christman shared, “Some of the firefighters who were first responders had the heaviest dust exposure. The NYC Fire Department has performed spirometry (i.e., lung function testing) longitudinally with 13 years of follow-up.”

He added, “Some firefighters’ lungs aged the equivalent of 10-12 years in the first weeks to months following the attack from the dust they breathed. Those who smoked did even worse.”

Demolition of ‘Twin Towers’ in India

On August 28, using controlled demolition, the Supertech Twin Towers named Ceyane and Apex in Noida were demolished at around 2:30 PM. The preparations for the demolition were going on for seven months, including one month of planning and six months of onsite preparations.

The demolition was executed using 3700 KGs of explosives, and it was carried out by two companies named Edifice Engineering and Jet Demolitions, a South African company that holds expertise in such demolitions.

The total cost of the demolition was around 20 crores. The water sprinklers were activated within minutes of the demolition to settle the dust as soon as possible and reduce its impact on the neighbouring areas.

While the authorities race to mitigate the long term effects of the dust from this demolition, we wait and see how successful they were with their planning.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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