As part of its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center disaster, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology today released an interim analysis of the location of the 2,749 victims that classifies the decedents as being at/above or below the floors of impact. The evacuation patterns suggest more people than previously thought died below the floors of impact.
Federal Investigators Classify WTC Victims’ Locations Within Collapsed Buildings
As part of its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today released an interim analysis of the location of the 2,749 victims that classifies the decedents as being at/above or below the floors of impact and specifies the number of victims found in each of the WTC towers. The analysis categorizes all names provided by the City of New York as decedents. It also identifies types of first responders who perished in the disaster. The analysis does not specify the names or exact locations of decedents.
Knowing the location of victims assists NIST in better understanding occupant behavior, evacuation and emergency response operations after terrorists flew two aircraft into the WTC towers, including the effects of aircraft impact, ensuing fires and overall building collapse. It also helps NIST to recommend possible changes in building design, construction, maintenance and operation that would improve the safety of occupants and first responders.
To identify locations, NIST relied on more than 300 face-to-face interviews and 800 telephone surveys, various Web sites maintained by survivors or victims’ families and colleagues, several media outlets’ reports, and a badge list maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The total number of people below the floors of impact was 110 (WTC 1) + 6 (WTC 2) + 30 (WTC 1 or 2) + (maybe 26; unknown in building) + (maybe 17; no information) + 421 first responders = 567 to 610.
The total number above the floors of impact was 1,356 (WTC 1) + 618 (WTC 2) + (maybe 26; unknown in building) + (maybe 17; no information) = 1,974 to 2,017.
The total number of plane passengers and crew was 147 (plus 10 hijackers). Additionally, there were 18 people (non-WTC occupants) killed outside the building by debris and jet fuel.
The NIST analysis categorized all names provided by the City of New York as being a recognized WTC decedent. The following sources then were used to categorize decedent locations:
* More than 300 face-to-face interviews and 800 telephone surveys conducted as part of the NIST investigation.
* September11Victims.com. This site is dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy.
* Portraits: 9/11/01. Published by the New York Times in 2003, this book includes short interviews with family members of many decedents.
* CNN.com In-Depth Special (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/memorial/index.html). Tribute site for people to write remembrances of decedents.
* Badge list maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which includes name, employer, building and floor for all occupants with badge-access to WTC 1 or WTC 2.
* Numerous memorial sites maintained by companies and organizations that lost employees, which include names and remembrances of decedents.
* Newsday.com, which includes short stories written about specific decedents.
A number of assumptions were made while developing this analysis. These assumptions are:
* Location refers to the assumed area where an individual perished. The employer and floor number were the primary modes for determining location. An employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, for example, would be assumed to have died above the floors of impact in WTC 1. Often, information about the exact nature of death was available from an aforementioned source, and that information was used to categorize individuals. The 18 documented bystanders, in particular, required additional information in order to be categorized.
* There were 30 individuals who were known to have been below the floors of impact, but for whom we could not determine where they were at the time of their death. Largely, these individuals were security guards and fire safety staff who were observed performing activities below the floors of impact after airplane impact.
* There were 26 individuals who were likely in either WTC 1 or WTC 2, but for whom no clarifying information could be uncovered indicating whether they were above or below floors of impact. Their occupations largely were maintenance, janitor, delivery, safety or security functions.
* First responders were defined to be people who arrived at the site from another location; thus, security staff and Port Authority staff (different from PA Police Officers) were not defined to be first responders.
* No information could be determined for 17 individuals.