Prelude 9/11 morning Flight 11 hijacked Flight 175 hijacked WTC 1 hit Flight 77 hijacked WTC 2 hit Flight 93 hijacked Pentagon hit WTC 2 collapses Flight 93 crashes WTC 1 collapses WTC 7 collapses Epilogue

Claim

There were 400 meters between dispersed building debris around Ground Zero, and only a few floors were lying as pancakes0

Background

The scope of the terror attack resulted in FEMA being charged with conducting investigations of the events on September 11, 2001. FEMA published the findings in a report in May, 20021.

FEMA’s premilinary explanation of the collapses was that the fires probably caused the floor beams to fail, which could have caused the floors to fall like a stack of pancakes, thereby crushing the buildings.

The claim insinuates that, since FEMA’s explanation does not reflect the real conditions, something suspicious must be going on.

Facts

The FEMA investigation

FEMA was charged with the task of collating data and, based on these, to come up with recommendations and observations as to what happened to the buildings that were fully or partly destroyed:

This report presents observations, findings, and recommendations regarding the performance of buildings affected by the September 11 attacks on the WTC towers in New York City. This report also describes the structural and fire protection features of the affected buildings and their performance in response to the terrorist attacks. Due to the unprecedented nature, magnitude, and visibility of the terrorist attacks, this event is among the most well-documented in the media, particularly in terms of photographic images, lives affected, and the immediate responses and ensuing sequence of events. An understanding of these events must include the performance of the buildings under extreme conditions beyond building code requirements. This includes determining the probable causes of collapse and identifying lessons to be learned. Recommendations are presented for more detailed engineering studies, to complete the assessments and to reproduce improved guidance for building design and performance evaluation tools.2

The NIST investigations

In their far more thorough investigations, NIST concluded the following:
General
The two aircraft hit the towers at high speed and did considerable damage to principal components (core columns, floors, and perimeter columns) that were directly impacted by the aircraft or associated debris. However, the towers withstood the impacts and would have remained standing, were it not for the dislodged insulation (fireproofing) and the subsequent multi-floor fires. The robustness of the perimeter frame-tube system and the large size of the buildings helped the towers withstand the impact. The structural system redistributed loads from places of aircraft impact avoiding larger scale damage upon impact. The hat truss, a feature atop each tower which was intended to support a television antenna, prevented earlier collapse of the building core. In each tower, a different combination of impact damage and heat-weakened structural components contributed to the abrupt structural collapse3.

The North Tower (World Trade Center 1)

In World Trade Center 1, the fires weakened the core columns and caused the floors on the south side of the building to sag. The floors pulled the heated south perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring colums quickly became overloaded as columns on the south wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by how long it took for the fires to weaken the building core and to reach the south side of the building and weaken the perimeter columns and floors3.

The South Tower (World Trade Center 2)

In World Trade Center 2, the core was damaged severely at the southeast corner and was restrained by the east and south walls via the hat truss and the floors. The steady burning fires on the east side of the building caused the floors there to sag. The floors pulled the heated east perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the east wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the east and to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by the time for the fires to weaken the perimeter columns and floor assemblies on the east and the south sides of the building. World Trade Center 2 collapsed more quickly than World Trade Center 1, because there was more aircraft damage to the building core, including one of the heavily loaded corner columns, and there were early and persistent fires on the east side of the building, where the aircraft had extensively dislodged insulation from the structural steel.3.

400 meter
The result of the official investigations explains why building debris was spread wide at Ground Zero. When two buildings, each more than 400 meters tall, collapse, a lot of debris will invariably be spread over the area. Even large parts of the buildings were pressed out and away from the footprints of the buildings.

In reality, the area of debris was far larger, since dust, smaller parts, and inventory were spread over most of Lower Manhattan.

Logic

The claim is deliberately misleading, because the conspiracy theorists choose to interpret FEMA’s work, which was of preliminary nature, and at the same time ignore NIST’s subsequent and more comprehensive investigations.

The claim contradicts a long list of claims, some of which are found on the same flyer (see “Related articles” below).

One example is the claim that huge quantities of explosives and top secret military-developed nanothermite were placed in the World Trade Center 1, 2, and 7 prior to September 11, 2001. This, supposedly, caused the buildings to collapse in their own footprints. However, it cannot be claimed that the buildings did that and at the same time be claimed that debris was spread over an area of 400 meters in diameter.

Conclusion

The claim is therefore:

  • Misleading
  • Manipulating
  • In conflict with other claims

Sources

  1. Løbeseddel, i11time.dk
  2. FEMA: World Trade Center Building Performance Study
  3. FEMA: World Trade Center Building Performance Study, Chapter 1, p. 1-1.
  4. NIST: Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, Executive Summary, E-3, xxxv.

Q & A