Philip Delves Broughton
Last updated at 10:41 PM on 10th February 2010
We have seen the Twin Towers
collapse hundreds of times on TV. The steel and glass skyscrapers
exploding like a bag of flour, the dust and smoke pluming out across
Manhattan. But never like this, from above.
Nine years after the defining moment
of the 21st century, a stunning set of photographs taken by New York
Police helicopters forces us to look afresh at a catastrophe we assumed
we knew so well.
You know but cannot see the
2,752 men, women and children who died at the World Trade Centre on
September 11, 2001. None is visible here.
Terror: A tidal wave of dust and debris roars through lower Manhattan as the World Trade Centre collapses on September 11, 2001
Collapse: This image captures the sheer size of the debris cloud enveloping buildings and cars as the towers collapse
The cloud spreads out, consuming the surrounding area and moving out over the East River
SO WHY ARE WE SEEING THEM NOW?
9/11 the U.S.’s National Institute of Standards and Technology
collected images from amateur, professional and freelance photographers
as part of its investigation into the collapse of the World Trade
Centre. It completed its research in 2005. In the summer of last year,
ABC saw that NIST was asking the photographers’ permission to release
the images and filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to
get access to them. The images seen here are ones taken by NYPD
helicopters and come from the 2,779 pictures supplied on nine CDs to
the news organisation.
All we see is the spectacular moment
of collapse, what film directors call the wide shot, showing the towers
in their urban setting, before, during and after their fall.
Even for those who were there, like
me, running from the cloud and choking in the dust, it is hard to
believe. But what is all too evident to everyone is that this event
changed the world, with consequences that will haunt us for decades.
With the Twin Towers collapsed the world we thought we knew.
dramatic images were taken by police photographers in helicopters and
it is the first time they have been seen, having been released under a
Freedom of Information request made by America’s ABC News.
buildings can be seen crumpling in on themselves as plumes of smoke
rise up over the New York skyline that terrible September morning.
The images show how the police
helicopter first began taking images from afar before moving in to
reveal the devastation taking place underneath.
They also reveal the horror faced by
those trapped in the burning buildings and then the walls of smoke and
debris that enveloped the surrounding area as the towers came crashing
Released more than eight years after
the deaths of 2,752 people on that day, they are powerful reminders of
the attack that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The legacy of the New York attack
continues today with as British forces joining with Afghan soldiers and
Nato to launch the biggest attack on the Taliban – accused of
harbouring Al Qaeda who organised the 9/11 attack – since the initial
Meanwhile, in New York, work is continuing to build on the rubble of what became known as Ground Zero.
Structural steel for the 1,776ft
tower, which will be known as 1 World Trade Centre, has already reached
200ft above street level.
Workers are now installing 16 steel
nodes on the 20th-floor of the tower which will serve as joints between
the steel framing for the building’s podium and the steel for the rest
of the tower. The 104-storey skyscraper is due to be completed in 2013
and will be one of the tallest buildings in the U.S.
The moment one of the World Trade Centre towers begins to crumble in New York
Target: Smoke fills the surrounding area as the South Tower collapses after the terrorist attack by Al Qaeda
At first the police helicopter is far away
before it moves through the smoke to show the flames pouring out of the
ravaged North Tower