The following is a collection of eyewitness accounts describing phenomena indicative of controlled demolition. These quotes and accompanying description are drawn from the article, “Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories,” by Dr. David Ray Griffin.

Testimony Suggestive of Explosions in the Twin Towers Available Prior to the Release of the FDNY Oral Histories on August 12, 2005

The day after 9/11, a story in the Los Angeles Times, referring to the south tower, said: “There were reports of an explosion right before the tower fell, then a strange sucking sound, and finally the sound of floors collapsing.”1

A story in the Guardian said that “police and fire officials were carrying out the first wave of evacuations when the first of the World Trade Centre towers collapsed. Some eyewitnesses reported hearing another explosion just before the structure crumbled. Police said that it looked almost like a ‘planned implosion.’”2

There were many reports about an explosion in the basement of the north tower. For example, janitor William Rodriguez reported that he and others felt an explosion below the first sub-level office at 9 AM, after which co-worker Felipe David, who had been in front of a nearby freight elevator, came into the office with severe burns on his face and arms yelling “explosion! explosion! explosion!”3

Rodriguez’s account has been corroborated by Jose Sanchez, who was in the workshop on the fourth sub-level. Sanchez said that he and a co-worker heard a big blast that “sounded like a bomb,” after which “a huge ball of fire went through the freight elevator.”4

Engineer Mike Pecoraro, who was working in the sixth sub-basement of the north tower, said that after an explosion he and a co-worker went up to the C level, where there was a small machine shop. “There was nothing there but rubble,” said Pecoraro. “We’re talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press–gone!” They then went to the parking garage, but found that it was also gone. Then on the B level, they found that a steel-and-concrete fire door, which weighed about 300 pounds, was wrinkled up “like a piece of aluminum foil.” Having seen similar things after the terrorist attack in 1993, Pecoraro was convinced that a bomb had gone off.5

Multiple Explosions

Some of the testimonies suggested that more than one explosion occurred in one tower or the other. FDNY Captain Dennis Tardio, speaking of the south tower, said: “I hear an explosion and I look up. It is as if the building is being imploded, from the top floor down, one after another, boom, boom, boom.”6

In June of 2002, NBC television played segments from tapes recorded on 9/11. One segment contained the following exchange, which involved firefighters in the south tower:
Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we’ve just had another explosion.
Official: Battalion 3 to dispatch, we’ve had additional explosion.
Dispatcher: Received battalion command. Additional explosion.7

Firefighter Louie Cacchioli, after entering the north tower lobby and seeing elevator doors completely blown out and people being hit with debris, asked himself, “how could this be happening so quickly if a plane hit way above”? After he reached the 24th floor, he and another fireman “heard this huge explosion that sounded like a bomb [and] knocked off the lights and stalled the elevator.” After they pried themselves out of the elevator, “another huge explosion like the first one hits. This one hits about two minutes later . . . [and] I’m thinking, “Oh. My God, these bastards put bombs in here like they did in 1993!”8

Multiple explosions were also reported by Teresa Veliz, who worked for a software development company in the north tower. She was on the 47th floor, she reported, when suddenly “the whole building shook. . . . [Shortly thereafter] the building shook again, this time even more violently.” Then, while Veliz was making her way downstairs and outside: “There were explosions going off everywhere. I was convinced that there were bombs planted all over the place and someone was sitting at a control panel pushing detonator buttons. . . . There was another explosion. And another. I didn’t know where to run.”9

Steve Evans, a New York-based correspondent for the BBC, said: “I was at the base of the second tower . . . that was hit. . . . There was an explosion. . . . The base of the building shook. . . . [T]hen there was a series of explosions.”10

Sue Keane, an officer in the New Jersey Fire Police Department who was previously a sergeant in the U.S. Army, said in her account of the onset of the collapse of the south tower: “[I]t sounded like bombs going off. That’s when the explosions happened. . . . I knew something was going to happen. . . . It started to get dark, then all of a sudden there was this massive explosion.” Then, discussing her experiences during the collapse of the north tower, she said: “[There was] another explosion. That sent me and the two firefighters down the stairs. . . . I can’t tell you how many times I got banged around. Each one of those explosions picked me up and threw me. . . . There was another explosion, and I got thrown with two firefighters out onto the street.”11

Wall Street Journal reporter John Bussey, describing his observation of the collapse of the south tower from the ninth floor of the WSJ office building, said: “I . . . looked up out of the office window to see what seemed like perfectly synchronized explosions coming from each floor. . . . One after the other, from top to bottom, with a fraction of a second between, the floors blew to pieces.”12

Another Wall Street Journal reporter said that after seeing what appeared to be “individual floors, one after the other exploding outward,” he thought: “‘My God, they’re going to bring the building down.’ And they, whoever they are, HAD SET CHARGES. . . . I saw the explosions.”13

A similar perception was reported by Beth Fertig of WNYC Radio, who said: “It just descended like a timed explosion–like when they are deliberately bringing a building down. . . . It was coming down so perfectly that in one part of my brain I was thinking, ‘They got everyone out, and they’re bringing the building down because they have to.’”14

A more graphic testimony to this perception was provided on the film made by the Naudet brothers. In a clip from that film, one can watch two firemen describing their experiences to other firemen.
Fireman 1: “We made it outside, we made it about a block . . . .”
Fireman 2: “We made it at least two blocks and we started running.” He makes explosive sounds and then uses a chopping hand motion to emphasize his next point: “Floor by floor it started popping out . . . .”
Fireman 1: “It was as if they had detonated–as if they were planning to take down a building, boom boom boom boom boom . . . .”
Fireman 2: “All the way down. I was watching it and running. And then you just saw this cloud of shit chasing you down.”15

Testimonies in the FDNY Oral Histories Released on August 12, 2005 Suggestive of Controlled Demolition16

Several FDNY members reported that they heard an explosion just before the south tower collapsed. For example, Battalion Chief John Sudnik said that while he and others were working at the command post, “we heard a loud explosion or what sounded like a loud explosion and looked up and I saw tower two start coming down.”17

Firefighter Timothy Julian said: “First I thought it was an explosion. I thought maybe there was a bomb on the plane, but delayed type of thing, you know secondary device. . . . I just heard like an explosion and then a cracking type of noise, and then it sounded like a freight train, rumbling and picking up speed, and I remember I looked up, and I saw it coming down.”18

Emergency medical technician Michael Ober said: “[W]e heard a rumble, some twisting metal, we looked up in the air, and . . . it looked to me just like an explosion. It didn’t look like the building was coming down, it looked like just one floor had blown completely outside of it. . . . I didn’t think they were coming down. I just froze and stood there looking at it.”19 Ober’s testimony suggests that he heard and saw the explosion before he saw any sign that the building was coming down.

This point is made even more clearly by Chief Frank Cruthers, who said: “There was what appeared to be at first an explosion. It appeared at the very top, simultaneously from all four sides, materials shot out horizontally. And then there seemed to be a momentary delay before you could see the beginning of the collapse.”20

These statements by Ober and Cruthers, indicating that there was a delay between the explosion and the beginning of the collapse, suggest that the sounds and the horizontal ejection of materials could not be attributed simply to the onset of the collapse.

Shaking Ground before the Collapse

As we saw earlier, some people in the towers reported that there were powerful explosions in the basements. Such explosions would likely have caused the ground to shake.
Such shaking was reported by medical technician Lonnie Penn, who said that just before the collapse of the south tower: “I felt the ground shake, I turned around and ran for my life. I made it as far as the Financial Center when the collapse happened.”21

According to the official account, the vibrations that people felt were produced by material from the collapsing towers hitting the ground. Penn’s account, however, indicates that the shaking must have occurred several seconds before the collapse.

Shaking prior to the collapse of the north tower was described by fire patrolman Paul Curran. He was standing near it, he said, when “all of a sudden the ground just started shaking. It felt like a train was running under my feet. . . . The next thing we know, we look up and the tower is collapsing.”22

Lieutenant Bradley Mann of the fire department, one of the people to witness both collapses, described shaking prior to each of them. “Shortly before the first tower came down,” he said, “I remember feeling the ground shaking. I heard a terrible noise, and then debris just started flying everywhere. People started running.” Then, after they had returned to the area, he said, “we basically had the same thing: The ground shook again, and we heard another terrible noise and the next thing we knew the second tower was coming down.”23

Multiple Explosions

The oral histories contain numerous testimonies with reports of more than one explosion. Paramedic Kevin Darnowski, for example, said: “I started walking back up towards Vesey Street. I heard three explosions, and then we heard like groaning and grinding, and tower two started to come down.”24

Gregg Brady, an emergency medical technician, reported the same thing about the north tower, saying: “I heard 3 loud explosions. I look up and the north tower is coming down now.”25

Somewhat more explosions were reported by firefighter Thomas Turilli, who said, referring to the south tower, that “it almost sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight.”26

Even more explosions were reported by Craig Carlsen, who said that while he and other firefighters were looking up at the towers, they “heard explosions coming from building two, the south tower. It seemed like it took forever, but there were about ten explosions. . . . We then realized the building started to come down.”27

“Pops”

As before, “pops” were reported by some witnesses. “As we are looking up at the [south tower],” said firefighter Joseph Meola, “it looked like the building was blowing out on all four sides. We actually heard the pops. Didn’t realize it was the falling–you know, you heard the pops of the building. You thought it was just blowing out.”28

“Pops” were also reported by paramedic Daniel Rivera in the following exchange:
Q. How did you know that it [the south tower] was coming down”

A. That noise. It was noise.

Q. What did you hear? What did you see?

A. It was a frigging noise. At first I thought it was—do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’? That’s exactly what–because I thought it was that. When I heard that frigging noise, that’s when I saw the building coming down.29

Collapse Beginning below the Strike Zone and Fire

According to the official account, the “pancaking” of the floors began when the floors above the strike zone, where the supports were weakened by the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires, fell on the floors below. Some witnesses reported, however, that the collapse of the south tower began lower than the floors that were struck by the airliner and hence lower than the fires.

Timothy Burke reported that while he was watching flames coming out of the south tower, “the building popped, lower than the fire.” He later heard a rumor that “the aviation fuel fell into the pit, and whatever floor it fell on heated up really bad, and that’s why it popped at that floor.” At the time, however, he said, “I was going oh, my god, there is a secondary device because the way the building popped. I thought it was an explosion.”30

This same twofold observation was made by firefighter Edward Cachia, who said: “As my officer and I were looking at the south tower, it just gave. It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit. . . . [W]e originally had thought there was like an internal detonation, explosives, because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.”31

Other Indications of Controlled Demolition

Some witnesses reported other phenomena, beyond explosions, suggestive of controlled demolition.

Flashes: Another common feature of controlled demolitions is that people who are properly situated may see flashes when the explosives go off. Assistant Commissioner Stephen Gregory said: “I thought . . . before . . . No. 2 came down, that I saw low-level flashes. . . . Lieutenant Evangelista . . . asked me if I saw low-level flashes in front of the building, and I agreed with him because I . . . saw a flash flash flash . . . [at] the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That’s what I thought I saw.”32

Flashes were reported in the north tower by Captain Karin Deshore, who said: “Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center, there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash.”33

Demolition Rings: At this point, Deshore’s account moved to another standard phenomenon seen by those who watch controlled demolitions: explosion rings, in which a series of explosions runs rapidly around a building. Deshore’s next words were: “Then this flash just kept popping all the way around the building and that building had started to explode. The popping sound, and with each popping sound it was initially an orange and then a red flash came out of the building and then it would just go all around the building on both sides as far as I could see. These popping sounds and the explosions were getting bigger, going both up and down and then all around the building.”34

An explosion ring (or belt) was also described by firefighter Richard Banaciski. Speaking of the south tower, he said: “[T]here was just an explosion. It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.”35

A description of what appeared to be a ring of explosions was also given by Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick, who said: “We looked up at the [south tower] . . . . All we saw was a puff of smoke coming from about 2 thirds of the way up . . . . It looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building. . . . My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV.”36

Horizontal Ejections: Another feature of controlled demolition, at least when quite powerful explosives are used, is that things are ejected horizontally from the floors on which the explosions occur. Such ejections were mentioned in the testimony of Chief Frank Cruthers above. Similarly, Captain Jay Swithers said: “I took a quick glance at the building and while I didn’t see it falling, I saw a large section of it blasting out, which led me to believe it was just an explosion.”37

Firefighter James Curran said: “When I got underneath the north bridge I looked back and . . . I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu. Looked back and from the pressure everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed.”38

Battalion Chief Brian Dixon said: “I was . . . hearing a noise and looking up. . . . [T]he lowest floor of fire in the south tower actually looked like someone had planted explosives around it because . . . everything blew out on the one floor. I thought, geez, this looks like an explosion up there, it blew out.”39

These reports by Curran and Dixon conform to what can be seen by looking at photographs and videos of the collapses, which show that various materials, including sections of steel and aluminum, were blown out hundreds of feet. Such powerful ejections of materials are exactly what would be expected from explosions powerful enough to cause such huge buildings to collapse.

Timed or Synchronized Explosions: Some people said that the collapses had the appearance of timed, synchronized demolitions. Battalion Chief Dominick DeRubbio, speaking of the collapse of the south tower, said: “It was weird how it started to come down. It looked like it was a timed explosion.”40

Firefighter Kenneth Rogers said: “[T]here was an explosion in the south tower. . . . I kept watching. Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing. I was there in ’93.”41

[1] Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2001

[2] ”Special Report: Terrorism in the US,” Guardian, Sept. 12, 2001

[3] Greg Szymanski, “WTC Basement Blast and Injured Burn Victim Blows ‘Official 9/11 Story’ Sky High,” Arctic Beacon.com, June 24, 2005

[4] Greg Szymanski, “Second WTC Janitor Comes Forward With Eye-Witness Testimony Of ‘Bomb-Like’ Explosion in North Tower Basement,” Arctic Beacon.com, July 12, 2005

[5] ”We Will Not Forget: A Day of Terror,” The Chief Engineer, July, 2002

[6] Quoted in Dennis Smith, Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center (New York: Penguin, 2002), 18

[7] ”911 Tapes Tell Horror Of 9/11,” Part 2, “Tapes Released For First Time,” NBC TV, June 17, 2002 (www.wnbc.com/news/1315651/detail.html)

[8] Greg Szymanski, “NY Fireman Lou Cacchioli Upset that 9/11 Commission ‘Tried to Twist My Words,’” Arctic Beacon.com, July 19, 2005. Although the oral histories that were released on August 12 did not include one from Cacchioli, the fact that he was on duty is confirmed in the oral history of Thomas Turilli, page 4

[9] Dean E. Murphy, September 11: An Oral History (New York: Doubleday, 2002), 9-15

[10] BBC, Sept. 11, 2001

[11] Quoted in Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba, Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion (Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002), 65-66, 68

[12] John Bussey, “Eye of the Storm: One Journey Through Desperation and Chaos,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2001 (http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/040802pulitzer5.htm)

[13] Alicia Shepard, Cathy Trost, and Newseum, Running Toward Danger: Stories Behind the Breaking News of 9/11, Foreword by Tom Brokaw (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 87

[14] Quoted in Judith Sylvester and Suzanne Huffman, Women Journalists at Ground Zero (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 19

[15] For the video of this conversation, see “Evidence of Demolition Charges in WTC 2,” What Really Happened (http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/wtc2_cutter.html)

[16] All of the FDNY Oral Histories can be read at: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/met_WTC_histories_full_01.html

[17] Oral History of John Sudnik, 4

[18] Oral History of Timothy Julian, 10

[19] Oral History of Michael Ober, 4

[20] Oral History of Frank Cruthers, 4

[21] Oral History of Lonnie Penn, 5

[22] Oral History of Paul Curran, 11

[23] Oral History of Bradley Mann, 5-7

[24] Oral History of Kevin Darnowski, 8

[25] Oral History of Gregg Brady, 7

[26] Oral History of Thomas Turilli, 4

[27] Oral History of Craig Carlsen, 5-6

[28] Oral History of Joseph Meola, 5

[29] Oral History of Daniel Rivera, 9

[30] Oral History of Timothy Burke, 8-9

[31] Oral History of Edward Cachia, 5

[32] Oral History of Stephen Gregory, 14-16

[33] Oral History of Karin Deshore, 15

[34] Ibid

[35] Oral History of Richard Banaciski, 3-4

[36] Oral History of Thomas Fitzpatrick, 13-14

[37] Oral history of Jay Swithers, 5

[38] Oral History of James Curran, 10-11

[39] Oral History of Brian Dixon, 15

[40] Oral History of Dominick DeRubbio, 5

[41] Oral History of Kenneth Rogers, 3-4