NEW YORK (AP) – The only videotape known to have captured both
planes slamming into the World Trade Center, and only the second
image of the first strike, has surfaced on the eve of the second
anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The footage, obtained by The New York Times, was taken by a
Czech immigrant construction worker whose son at one point came
close to accidentally erasing the rare, chilling footage, the
newspaper reported on its website Saturday.
Federal officials investigating the trade-center collapse are
trying to obtain a copy of the hourlong tape, which could cast
light on the cause of the north tower’s collapse by helping to
determine factors including the exact speed at which the first
plane traveled, The Times said.
The only other known footage of the first plane’s impact came
from a French film crew making a documentary about a probationary
Pavel Hlava, an immigrant construction worker from the Czech
Republic, shot footage of the first plane hitting the north tower
as a sport utility vehicle he was riding in entered the
Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel en route to lower Manhattan.
Hlava, who made the tape looking at the camera’s relatively
low-resolution LCD display, told The Times he did not see the first
plane as he focused on the towers. But the tape shows a whitish
object hitting the tower, followed by dust spurting from the
tower’s side and a silvery, expanding cloud.
Passing through the tunnel, Hlava, his brother and his boss
heard a radio report that a small private plane had hit the World
Trade Center, straight ahead outside the tunnel. That hardly
prepared them for what they saw when they emerged: the north tower,
looming over them, bursting with flames.
As Hlava continued filming, the second jet shrieked behind him.
He caught the plane as it shot into the south tower, exploding into
an orange fireball and sending papers flying in every direction.
Later, after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, he focused on the
buildings again as the south tower tilted to one side and