What Caused the WTC 6 Crater?
by Christopher Bollyn
July 10, 2002
Before the smoke had cleared from around the stricken South Tower, a mysterious explosion shot 550 feet into the air above the U.S. Customs House at 6 World Trade Center. This unexplained blast at the Customs House has never been investigated or reported in the mainstream media.
Despite the fact that the horrible events of September 11 occurred in broad daylight and were widely photographed, significant aspects of the attacks have been completely suppressed by a media blackout. A massive explosion, witnessed by millions of television viewers on CNN, evidently devastated WTC 6, the 8-story U.S. Customs House, although no national newspaper or media outlet has said a word about it.
The unexplained blast occurred between the burning North Tower and the 47-story Salomon Brothers Building, known as WTC 7, immediately after United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the South Tower, at about 9:03 a.m. The explosion at WTC 6 was shown afterwards on CNN. Because it not broadcast as it happened there has been some confusion about when it actually occurred. The large amount of smoke seen cascading around the South Tower in the video led some observers to mistake the blast for a dust cloud from the subsequent collapse of the tower.
I contacted CNN to determine exactly when the footage was filmed. CNN's Public Affairs Department confirmed that the explosion shown in the footage occurred immediately after the second plane had crashed into the South Tower. When asked if the footage was taken at 9:04 a.m., the CNN archivist who could not give his last name, said, "That's correct." When asked if CNN could offer any explanation about what might have caused the blast that clearly reached 550 feet, soaring higher than the 47-story WTC 7 in the foreground, the archivist said, "We can't figure it out."
The affected space between WTC 7 and the North Tower was occupied by the 8-story U.S. Customs House building, also known as WTC 6. The building primarily housed the offices of some 760 employees of the Customs Service, a department of the U.S. Treasury. A number of other federal agencies reportedly had offices in the building, including the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Labor, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms, although the agencies failed to return calls about the matter. A spokesman for the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., which had an office with 4 employees on the 6th floor of the Customs House did confirm the time of the explosion and said the employees had survived and been relocated to another location in the city. One private company, Eastco Building Services, Inc., reportedly leased space in the building.
Some 800 workers from WTC 6 were safely evacuated within 12 minutes of the first plane hitting the North Tower at about 8:46 a.m., according to a Washington Post article by Stephen Barr, "Knowing the Drill Saved Lives at New York's Customs House" dated 18 September 2001. The Barr piece is the only known article published about WTC 6, however, Barr failed to mention the explosion that apparently devastated the building just minutes after the workers had escaped with their lives.
AVOIDING THE SUBJECT
Although the Customs House apparently exploded at 9:04 a.m., the government-sponsored investigation was steered away from looking into what had actually happened. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funded an investigation by the American Society of Civil Engineers, however, investigators were reportedly blocked from the building by an order from the New York City's Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC). Kenneth Holden is Commissioner of the DDC, having been appointed by the former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani on December 7, 1999.
Regarding the investigation of WTC 4, 5, and 6, FEMA's "Building Performance" report says, "WTC 5 was the only building accessible for observation," but it adds, "The observations, findings, and recommendations are assumed to be applicable to all three buildings." A spokesman for FEMA told me that because the building was considered by DDC to be "very dangerous," there was "no data collection" from WTC 6. Dr. Gene Corley, one of the engineers who led the investigation, told me that concerns about loose gold bullion and cash prevented investigators from entering WTC 4.
The FEMA report says, "The buildings [4,5,6] responded as expected to the impact loadings." Although the report says, "most of the central part of WTC 6 suffered collapse on all floors" it adds, "damage was consistent with the observed impact load." The Customs House had a huge crater in its center.
I contacted Corley about the CNN photos. Corley said he had not seen the photos before and said, "These are interesting photos." Corley, like others, thought the damage at WTC 6 was caused by the collapse of the North Tower, however, not one of the experts could recall seeing the CNN footage before. A spokesman for the Customs Service said, "It did not blow up. When the tower collapsed it caved in."
Corley said he had not seen the photos of the extremely high-speed missile-like object seen streaking toward WTC 6 from behind the North Tower as the second plane impacted the South Tower. He noted that parts of the plane's landing gear and an engine passed through the South Tower, and landed several blocks away. These objects, however, had a distinctly different trajectory from the streaking missile-like object. Jonathan Barnett, another investigator that I spoke to, said, "The debris from Tower 2 hit Building 5, not 6."