WTC1 BASEMENT AND LOBBY
William Rodriguez – WTC survivor. An American Building Maintenance employee for twenty years, responsible for inspection and maintenance at the World Trade Center, who held the master key for the stairs. He was the last person to leave the building on September 11 and has been credited with saving many lives. For his efforts, he received the National Hero Award from the Senate of Puerto Rico. Founder, Hispanic Victims Group.Article 6/24/05: Regarding an explosion in the sub-basement of the World Trade Center North Tower on 9/11, prior to any airplane impact. "When I heard the sound of the explosion, the floor beneath my feet vibrated, the walls started cracking and it everything started shaking," said Rodriguez, who was huddled together with at least 14 other people in the office. ... [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Rodriguez was in sub-basement B1 of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at floors 93 to 98.]
"Seconds after the first massive explosion below in the basement still rattled the floor, I hear another explosion from way above," said Rodriguez. "Although I was unaware at the time, this was the airplane hitting the tower, it occurred moments after the first explosion."
But before Rodriguez had time to think, co-worker Felipe David stormed into the basement office with severe burns on his face and arms, screaming for help and yelling "explosion! explosion! explosion!"
David had been in front of a nearby freight elevator on sub-level 1 about 400 feet from the office when fire burst out of the elevator shaft, causing his injuries.
"He was burned terribly," said Rodriguez. "The skin was hanging off his hands and arms. His injuries couldn't have come from the airplane above, but only from a massive explosion below. I don’t care what the government says, what scientists say. I saw a man burned terribly from a fire that was caused from an explosion below.
"I know there were explosives placed below the trade center. I helped a man to safety who is living proof, living proof the government story is a lie and a cover-up. ...
"I disagree 100%with the government story," said Rodriguez. "I met with the 9/11 Commission behind closed doors and they essentially discounted everything I said regarding the use of explosives to bring down the north tower.
"And I contacted NIST previously four times without a response. Finally, this week I asked them before they came up with their conclusion that jet fuel brought down the towers, if they ever considered my statements or the statements of any of the other survivors who heard the explosions. They just stared at me with blank faces and didn't have any answers." http://www.arcticbeacon
Anthony Saltalamacchia – WTC Survivor. Maintenance Supervisor at the World Trade Center, overseeing over 100 American Building Maintenance employees.
- Video interview by William Rodriguez 9/07: "On the morning of September 11th, I was in my office. I was just getting the work handed out to all the employees. ... [Editor's note:
At this point, Mr. Saltalamacchia was in sub-basement B1 of the North
Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at
floors 93 to 98.]
We heard a massive explosion that was in the World Trade Center about 8:46 a.m. in the morning. The explosion came from -- I believe at first we believed that it came from the Mechanical Room. [Editor's note: The Mechanical Room was below them in a lower sub-basement .]
Then we heard a series of other explosions that sounded up on the above levels of the building. We then realized that there was something wrong and there was a major problem. And about, I'd say, 14 to 15 people came running and screaming into our office. ...
Then right after that the floor started shaking. The tile from above, which was above us, started coming down, falling on us. And we knew that there was something seriously wrong happening.
A man came into the office. He was a black man, very shaky, like in shock. He had multiple wounds. His arms were bleeding. Skin was peeling off. You could see basically his flesh. It was a very tough thing to see. ... [Editor's note: Mr. Saltalamacchia is referring to Felipe David.]
And as we're standing there, more explosions were happening. A lot of screaming confusion. ...
It was very smoky, very cloudy. It just looked very serious. We knew we had to get out of the building. ...
The amount of explosions I've heard from 8:46 until the time we got out was so many, at least ten. It was just like multiple explosions to where I felt like there were different grenades. That's what it sounded like, it was different grenades being set off in the building. It was like -- There was one major explosion, and then there was different explosions throughout that period of time until we got out.
Do I believe six years after 9/11? I don't know the truth. I don't believe a word that they say. I just don't believe Everything they say is a cover up. ... No, definitely don't leave it alone. I think that we should get documents to know the truth of what was really going on that we didn't know that we should know now." http://www.youtube.com
Phillip Morelli – WTC survivor. Construction worker at the World Trade Center for seven years .
- Video interview: "At 8:30 he says he was headed for level B-4 in Tower One [North Tower], four stories below ground.
"... As I'm walking by the main freight car of the building, in the corridor, that's when I got blown. I mean the impact of the explosion, from whatever happened, it threw me to the floor. And that's when everything started happening. It knocked me right to the floor. You didn't know what it was. Of course, you're assuming something fell over on the loading dock, something very heavy, something very big. You don't know what happened. And all of a sudden you just felt the floor moving. ... [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Morelli was in the sub-basement of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's point of impact at floors 93 to 98.]
I was racing -- I was going towards the bathroom. All of a sudden. I opened the door. I didn't know it was a bathroom And all of a sudden a big impact happened again. And all the ceiling tiles were falling down. The light fixtures were falling, swinging out of the ceiling. And I come running out the door and everything, the walls were down. And I now started running towards the parking lots."
Nearly 100 floors below where the first plane hit Phil felt the devastating impact. ...
"As I ran to the parking lots, you know, I mean, everybody screaming ... There was a lot of smoke down there. ... You gotta go clear across the whole -- from One to Two World Trade Center. That's the way you gotta run.
And then all of a sudden it happened all over again. Building Two got hit. I don't know that. I just know something else hit us to the floor. Right in the basement you felt it. The walls were caving in. Everything that was going on. I know of people that got killed in the basement. I know of people that got broken legs in the basement. People got reconstructive surgery because the walls hit them in the face." http://real.ny1.com
Marlene Cruz – WTC survivor. Carpenter employed at the World Trade Center for 15 years.
- ABC 9/12/01: Peter Jennings interviewed
Marlene Cruz the day after 9/11. Ms. Cruz, a WTC carpenter, was injured
in the basement of WTC North Tower on 9/11. She was the first casualty
from the WTC to arrive at Bellevue Hospital.
Peter Jennings: So tell me how you're feeling. How did you get there? What happened to you?
Marlene Cruz: I work for the Trade Center. I'm one of the carpenters. And I was gonna go do a job. And I got on the elevator, the freight elevator. And I heard the first explosion. And the elevator blew up. The doors blew up. And it dropped. I was lucky that the elevator got caught between two floors.
Peter Jennings: Which floors?
Marlene Cruz: The B Levels. The basement levels. ... [Editor's note: At this point, Ms. Cruz was in the basement of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's point of impact at floors 93 to 98.]
After the first explosion I was laying on the floor about 40 minutes.
Peter Jennings: And how well do you know that subterranean part of the World Trade Center?
Marlene Cruz: Well, I worked for the building for 15 years. I think I know it from the back of my hand. Really I didn't expect this bombing to occur after the first one, since I was in the first one, also. But when I heard that explosion that's the first thing I thought was; here we go again, another bomb. http://youtube.com/watch?v=TSGZYP--wz0
Mike Pecoraro – WTC survivor. Stationary Engineer who performed services in all of the buildings at the World Trade Center.
- Article Chief Engineer 2002: Mike
Pecoraro and a co-worker were working in the sub-basement of the North
Tower when the first airplane hit. "They had been told to stay where
they were and "sit tight" until the Assistant Chief got back to
them. By this time, however, the room they were working in began to
fill with a white smoke. "We smelled kerosene," Mike recalled, "I
was thinking maybe a car fire was upstairs", referring to the parking
garage located below grade in the tower but above the deep space where they were working. [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Pecoraro was in the sub-basement of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at floors 93 to 98.]
The two decided to ascend the stairs to the C level, to a small machine shop where Vito Deleo and David Williams were supposed to be working. When the two arrived at the C level, they found the machine shop gone.
"There was nothing there but rubble, " Mike said. "We're talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press? gone!" The two began yelling for their co-workers, but there was no answer. They saw a perfect line of smoke streaming through the air. "You could stand here," he said, "and two inches over you couldn't breathe. We couldn't see through the smoke so we started screaming." But there was still no answer.
The two made their way to the parking garage, but found that it, too, was gone. "There were no walls, there was rubble on the floor, and you can't see anything" he said. [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Pecoraro was in the basement of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's point of impact at floors 93 to 98.]
They decided to ascend two more levels to the building's lobby. As they ascended to the B Level, one floor above, they were astonished to see a steel and concrete fire door that weighed about 300 pounds, wrinkled up "like a piece of aluminum foil" and lying on the floor. "They got us again," Mike told his co-worker, referring to the terrorist attack at the center in 1993. Having been through that bombing, Mike recalled seeing similar things happen to the building's structure. He was convinced a bomb had gone off in the building. Mike walked through the open doorway and found two people lying on the floor. One was a female Carpenter and the other an Elevator Operator. They were both badly burned and injured." http://www.chiefengineer.org
Arthur DelBianco – WTC Survivor. An American Building Maintenance employee. Worked 15 years at the World Trade Center.
- Video interview 9/11/01: "...and then all of a sudden it started like -- It sounded like gunfire. You know, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. And then all of a sudden three big explosions." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IqSsTmWv7k&eurl=
- NBC Today Show Video interview with Arthur DelBianco, Marlene Cruz, and Hursley Lever 9/12/01: At time of the first plane impact, Arthur DelBianco was in WTC 1 (North Tower).
"I was heading up to the 106th or 7th floor in an elevator. And around the 70th floor I heard -- the lights flicked in the elevator and a rumble and then I heard people screaming on the radio, "I'm trapped. Get me out. Get us out. Get us out. Fire! Fire!" I told the elevator operator to open the door and get the people wherever we were on. And we took them down to the ground level. ...
I went downstairs looking for my fellow workers, because at that time I didn't know the extent of the explosion. I thought it was just an explosion, not that it was two planes that ran into the building. So we're looking subgrade for fellow workers. And I got out of the building at one point and saw the two planes and the building burning. ...
I went looking for my friend, Hursley Lever, over here, and couldn't find him. Myself and Mike Pecoraro were back in the building looking for him and we couldn't find him. We helped the paramedics to work their way down and the firemen to work their way down because Marlene [Cruz] was hurt on the second level below ground.
At that point, we got out because the smoke and the water was getting too heavy. And when I got up to the concourse level it was just like gunfire and then and then, just three big explosions. And the elevator banks came down and the windows and glass and the stainless steel and the marble just started pushing us. We started running to get out of there. And it pushed us through the rubble like 25 to 50 feet.
I wound up handing by an elevator pit with my hand on a turnstyle. When I awoke, when it stopped, I felt someone walk over to me and it was a firefighter. ... And as we went along trying to find our way out to Liberty Street, we just grabbed people along the way. ... When I got outside, the building come down. ... We'd just stepped across the street by the financial center and the building started coming down." http://www.youtube.com
Felipe David – WTC Survivor. An Aramark Co. maintenance employee at the World Trade Center.
- Article by Greg Szymanski 7/13/05:
"Two more WTC workers have come forward with eye-witness testimony that a huge explosion ripped apart the lower levels of the north tower at about the same time a jetliner rammed into the top floors.
The pair not only reported hearing an underground blast, but were both injured, one suffering severe burns to the face, arms and hands and the other cuts and bruises after being trapped in a stalled basement elevator.
Burn victim, Felipe David, employed by Aramark Co. and Salvatore Giambanco, a WTC office painter trapped in a basement elevator, were both unavailable for comment, but made their explosive testimony - never before released in America - to a Colombian television station in 2002 on the first anniversary of 9/11. ...
Standing in front of a freight elevator on sub level 1 near the office where Willie Rodriguez and 14 others were huddled together when the explosion erupted below, David said in the taped interview:
"That day I was in the basement in sub-level 1 sometime after 8:30am. Everything happened so fast, everything moved so fast. The building started shaking after I heard the explosion below, dust was flying everywhere and all of a sudden it got real hot.
[Editor's note: At this point, Mr. David was in the basement of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's point of impact at floors 93 to 98.]
"I threw myself onto the floor, covered my face because I felt like I was burned. I sat there for a couple of seconds on the floor and felt like I was going to die, saying to myself 'God, please give me strength.'"
Although severely burned on his face, arms and hands with skin hanging from his body like pieces of cloth, David picked himself up, running for help to the office were Rodriguez and others were gathered.
"When I went in, I told them it was an explosion," said David, who was then helped out of the WTC by Rodriguez and eventually taken by ambulance to New York Hospital." http://www.arcticbeacon.com
Hursley Lever – WTC Survivor. An American Building Maintenance mechanic. Worked 12 years at the World Trade Center.
- NBC Today Show Video interview with Arthur DelBianco, Marlene Cruz, and Hursley Lever 9/12/01: "I was in the B-4 level. ... I heard a bomb. [Editor's note:
At this point, Mr. Lever was in sub-basement B4 of the North Tower,
approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at floors 93
So, I says, 'Probably a transformer again blew up.' So I step back, finish what I had to finish, and I started towards the door again. And there came a big blast with a big ball of fire. And that's when I got hit. It hit me right back down on the ground and I realized my ankle was shattered." http://www.youtube.com
- Article Boston Globe 9/16/01:
"An aura of security, even after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, remained intact in the North Tower basement after the first assault last Tuesday. When Lever heard a "poof" from that crash, he thought that a transformer had blown again.
"I'm still doing what I'm doing," Lever recalled of his reaction. "Then I walk toward the door and heard a big explosion. And when I look, I see a ball of fire coming toward the door." [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Lever was in sub-basement B4 of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at floors 93 to 98.]
After being knocked across the room, with the lights out and black smoke everywhere, Lever heard a co-worker (Jose Sanchez, BELOW) calling him by his nickname from across the shop. "`Chino, Chino, are you all right?"' Lever recalled. [Editor's note: The co-worker is Jose Sanchez.]
Lever answered that he could not walk, but that they would escape together. He told his co-worker: "You stay low. You stay on your hands and knees. And you stay behind me."
Crawling and hopping from door to door, Lever prayed that the doors would not be locked. Lever said he never panicked, crediting his Army combat training for clear thinking in the crisis.
When they emerged from the World Trade Center, Lever recalled, a police officer shouted at them to hit the ground. The pair made their way to a Secret Service-owned Bronco, where Lever was placed on his back.
A two-way radio in the vehicle delivered even more unbelievable news: A second plane was about to strike the World Trade Center. On his back, Lever could only watch as the warning became reality. Several people left the Bronco and fled for their lives, Lever said, as flame, smoke, and debris rained around them." http://www.boston.com
Jose Sanchez – WTC Survivor. An employee of American Building Maintenance. Worked 14 years at the World Trade Center.
- Article by Greg Szymanski 7/12/05:
"A second WTC maintenance worker has now come forward with eye-witness testimony that a massive explosion erupted in the lower levels of the north tower at approximately the same time the jetliner struck the tower’s top floors.
Jose Sanchez, 45, of New Jersey in a never-released tape recorded statement made in early 2002 to William Rodriguez, the first WTC maintenance man to claim a bomb exploded in the north tower basement, said he heard what sounded like a “huge bomb,” causing lights to flicker on and off, while he worked in a small sub-level 4 workshop. [Editor's note: At this point, Mr. Sanchez was in sub-basement B4 of the North Tower, approximately 1,100 feet below the airplane's impact point at floors 93 to 98.]
Sanchez, who worked for American Building Maintenance Co. at the WTC for 14 years, was unavailable for comment, but made the taped 2002 statement to Rodriguez, recounting his 9/11 personal experience.
Sanchez, who fell on hard times after 9/11, revealed the details of a basement bomb-like explosion while Rodriguez and two CNN interns, Carolina Inojosa and Evita Zerebrinsky, interviewed victims and documented information for the many unfortunate people having trouble getting needed government assistance after 9/11. ...
“I knew Jose very well since we worked for the same company,” said Rodriguez in a telephone conversation from his New Jersey apartment. “At the time, I taped his statements, I was more concerned about getting people needed assistance and, anyway, back then I really thought the government was seriously investigating the WTC attacks.
“But since then I have learned otherwise. I realize now they are covering-up the real truth and that’s why I want to release Jose’s statement. What really upsets me and, you can take this message to the White House, is that people like Jose and many others like him who experienced what happened in the basement of the north tower were simply ignored and never interviewed by the 9/11 Commission.
“If they really wanted to get at the truth, these are the very people who should have been interviewed, not public officials who knew very little about what occurred inside the buildings that tragic morning.
“However, instead we all have been ignored in order to cover up the truth. The victims, those who died and the families who lost loved ones deserve nothing less than the truth and I intend to keep talking until the truth is finally told.”
Sanchez’s explosive comments, shooting another large hole in the government story, now adds even more credibility to Rodriguez’s recent statements that he heard a massive explosion in the WTC basement just seconds prior to the jetliner striking above while working in a sub-level 1 office along side 14 others, all who heard and felt the very same thing as Rodriguez.
Since the outset, the government has stood firm that only burning jet fuel brought down the towers, but has ignored mounting eye-witness testimony and scientific data showing that a controlled demolition was an additional cause.
The government also has not fully explained why it immediately tampered with a crime scene, a criminal offense, by having all the hard evidence from the WTC removed and shipped overseas before independent investigators had a chance to study the structural components of the towers in order to help determine the real cause of the tower’s collapse.
While arguments continue in the scientific community about the structural cause of the WTC collapse, Sanchez’s eye-witness testimony adds more credibility that explosives were placed and detonated in the lower level of the north tower.
In the 2002 taped statement, Sanchez recalls, at the same time Rodriguez and the others heard the explosion, being in a small sub-level 4 workshop with another man who he only knew by the name of Chino when, out of nowhere, the blast sounded as the two men were cutting a piece of metal. [Editor's note: Chino is the nickname of Hursley Lever (ABOVE).]
“It sounded like a bomb and the lights went on and off,” said Sanchez in the tape recording. “We started to walk to the exit and a huge ball of fire went through the freight elevator. The hot air from the ball of fire dropped Chino to the floor and my hair got burned,” said Sanchez in the tape recording. “The room then got full of smoke and I remember saying out loud ‘I believe it was a bomb that blew up inside the building.’
“I said ‘Chino, let’s go we gotta get out of here.’ But Chino was wounded and told me he needed help. I remember him saying that the hot air came with such force that it broke his leg. We finally went out through another exit and his leg and knee were both broken.”
Sanchez, all the time helping Chino, then recalls exiting into a parking lot on sub-level 4 where he encountered a group of other people also trying to flee. In the parking lot, a person assisted the pair, wrapping Chino’s leg with a bandage from a first aid kit.
Chino was then driven in an SUV to safety while Sanchez decided to walk up four flights of stairs through the stairwell, trying to exit at the plaza level but being turned back by debris and falling glass.
“I went back down the stairwell to B-4 and encountered several people coming up. I told them to turn back around and then went across the parking lot up another stairwell, making a left and then finally getting outside,” said Sanchez. “It took about 15 or 20 minutes to get outside and for me it was like a bomb with huge smoke all around. Then when I got outside, the other plane hit the south tower. It looked and felt like a war as I hid behind a wall to get out of the way of falling debris." http://www.arcticbeacon.citymaker.com
Michelle Scott – WTC survivor. Office Worker, WTC North Tower.
Evalle Sweezer – WTC survivor. Office Worker, WTC North Tower.
- Video interview on WABC 9/11/01:
Interviewer: The ladies that are with me were in the World Trade Center in the first building [North Tower] and escaped through the lobby, where they report they believe there was a bomb in the lobby.
Michelle Scott: We ran down the steps to the lobby. There was no lobby. Everything was torn up. And even the turnstyle was burnt and it was sticking up. And they just told us to run.
Evalle Sweezer: My boss ran out of the office. He said one thing, "Run!" Everybody just ran. And we ran down the stairs. They told us to come back up the stairs. And we were like, "Come back up the stairs? Are you crazy?" So we continued down the stairs. We came outside in the lobby. There was no lobby. The lobby was totally gone.
Interviewer: Did you see other people?
Evalle Sweezer: People? There was a woman with her face blown off. ... And as we were coming out we passed the lobby. There was no lobby. So I believe the bomb hit the lobby first. And in a couple of seconds, the first plane hit. http://www.youtube.com