Dramatic new stills of 9/11 attack released
A trove of aerial photographs of the collapsing World Trade Center was widely released this week, offering a rare and chilling view from the heavens of the burning twin towers and the apocalyptic shroud of smoke and dust that settled over the city.
The images were taken from a police helicopter — the only photographers allowed in the airspace near the skyscrapers on Sept. 11, 2001. They were obtained by ABC after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency that investigated the collapse. (AP Image)
The chief curator of the planned Sept. 11 museum pronounced the pictures "a phenomenal body of work."
The photos are "absolutely core to understanding the visual phenomena of what was happening," said Jan Ramirez of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. They are "some of the most exceptional images in the world, I think, of this event." (AP Image)
In some of the pictures, the tops of the nearby Woolworth Building and other skyscrapers can just be seen above the enormous cloud of debris, gray against a clear blue sky. Gray clouds billow through the streets of the financial district and shroud the 16 acres where the towers had stood just moments before.
Buildings can hardly be seen at all in one image — just dust clouds hanging over the Hudson River at the southern tip of Manhattan. (AP Image)
One close-up shows orange flames and black smoke pouring from the upper floors of the north tower, the first hit by a hijacked plane.
"I almost didn't realize what I was seeing that day," Greg Semendinger, the former New York Police Department detective who took the pictures posted on ABC's site, told The Associated Press. "Looking at it now it's amazing I took those pictures. The images are ... stunning." (AP Image)
The attack and the collapse of the World Trade Center were well documented on live TV and amateur video. But more than eight years after the nation's deadliest terror attack, the images still had the power to shock and disturb. They were an instant sensation on the Internet. (AP Image)
ABC said National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) gave the network 2,779 pictures on nine CDs. The network posted 12 pictures on its Web site Monday and an additional 12 on Wednesday, including another close-up of the burning north tower and photos of rescue boats and commuter ferries docking in the Hudson River to pick up survivors. (AP Image)
Semendinger — who took all the photos posted by ABC — said on Wednesday that he had previously e-mailed some of the pictures to friends who later posted them on the Internet.
Also, 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. (AP Image)