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Two Workers Rescued From Scaffolding 69 Stories Up At 1 World Trade Center

First responders saved workers whose scaffolding malfunctioned at the World Trade Center in New York today.
Kathy Willens
First responders saved workers whose scaffolding malfunctioned at the World Trade Center in New York today.

New York City firefighters have rescued two window washers who were trapped outside the World Trade Center after their scaffolding malfunctioned Wednesday, more than 69 stories in the air.

USA Today reports:

"A cable on the scaffolding apparently broke around 1 p.m., according to Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the building.

"[Fire department] spokesman Frank Dwyer said emergency teams were in communication with the workers who were uninjured. Rescuers lowered a radio down while they were trapped in the dangerous tilting scaffold.

"The pair were tethered to the scaffold during the ordeal."

Firefighters cut into the window and carefully removed the pieces to get to the workers, just before 2 p.m. ET. The workers were rescued without injury.

The New York Times spoke with onlookers who witnessed the moment the machine holding the two workers malfunctioned:

"James McDonnell, 32, works nearby and was looking out of his 31st-floor window around 12:30 p.m. when he saw the scaffolding get stuck.

" 'The sunlight was shining off the building in a remarkable way,' he said. He snapped a few pictures and then saw the window-washing basket sitting at a weird angle.

" 'And then it kind of lurched,' he said. It seemed like one of the cables snapped, he said."

ABC News 7 in New York says the workers have been taken to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation. The station says Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the New York Fire Department and Port Authority for their "extraordinary effort."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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