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Thread: Vast Detail on Towers' Collapse May Be Sealed

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    Vast Detail on Towers' Collapse May Be Sealed

    Vast Detail on Towers' Collapse May Be Sealed

    By JAMES GLANZ and ERIC LIPTON

    What is almost certainly the most sophisticated and complete understanding of exactly how and why the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell has been compiled as part of a largely secret proceeding in federal court in Lower Manhattan.

    Amassed during the initial stages of a complicated insurance lawsuit involving the trade center, the confidential material contains data and expert analysis developed by some of the nation's most respected engineering minds. It includes computer calculations that have produced a series of three-dimensional images of the crumpled insides of the towers after the planes hit, helping to identify the sequence of failures that led to the collapses.

    An immense body of documentary evidence, like maps of the debris piles, rare photos and videos, has also been accumulated in a collection that far outstrips what government analysts have been able to put together as they struggle to answer the scientifically complex and emotionally charged questions surrounding the deadly failures of the buildings.

    But everyone from structural engineers to relatives of victims fear that the closely held information, which includes the analysis and the possible answers that families and engineers around the world have craved, may remain buried in sealed files, or even destroyed.

    Bound by confidentiality agreements with their clients, the experts cannot disclose their findings publicly as they wait for the case to play out. Such restrictions are typical during the discovery phase of litigation. And as it now stands, the judge in the case

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    Jack Cermak, president of Cermak Peterka Peterson in Fort Collins, Colo., was retained by the insurance companies but had previously performed wind-tunnel studies for the original design of the twin towers nearly 40 years ago. For the legal case, Dr. Cermak said, "we've done probably more detailed measurements than in the original design."

    "The data that have been acquired are very valuable in themselves for understanding how wind and buildings interact," Dr. Cermak said. "Some of the information may be valuable for the litigation," he said, adding, "I think I've told you all I can."



    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/30/nyregion/30TOWE.html

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