Today in History: First World Trade Center Bombing
Friday, February 26, 2010
Today marks the anniversary of the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed the lives of six people and injured more than 1,000.
Shortly after noon on that day, also a Friday, a truck filled with explosives detonated in a parking garage beneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The masterminds that carried out the attacks were later confirmed to be Islamic fundamentalists.
The World Trade Center, which opened for tenancy in 1970, was the second tallest building in the world at the time at 1,350 feet. According to the NY/NJ Port Authority, at the time of the bombing, it's average daily population was 50,000 workers and 70,000 visitors.
The blast ripped a nearly 100-foot crater through several stories, burying many individuals in debris. Manhattan life came to a halt as hundreds of fire fighters and emergency vehicles rushed to the chaotic scene.
WNYC's Don Mathisen reported from the scene that afternoon, describing what he was seeing as the events unfolded:
'Hundreds maybe thousands of people are pouring out of the whole complex. Many of them are covered with soot. Many of them are wheezing and coughing. They have to walk all the way down from whatever floor they're on because they elevators have been sent to the ground floor and taken out of operation, so it could be a long walk if you're 70, 80, 90 floors up.'
Following the bombing, a massive investigation began with over 700 FBI agents joining in. Investigators soon discovered a rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before. When Mohammad Salameh attempted to get his $400 deposit back for the van an FBI SWAT team arrested him.
In 1994, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Mahmoud Abouhalima, and Ahmed Aja were convicted of carrying out the bombing.
Special thanks to WNYC's archivist Andy Lanset.