Mysteries of 9/11 attack include ‘raining paper’, ‘Falling Man’ and ‘toxic air’

With the 20th anniversary of the tragic 9/11terror attacks coming up on Saturday a new ITV documentary has revealed the secrets behind strange mysteries that occurred on the day.

9/11: Under Attack shows harrowing footage captured by witnesses of the plane crashes in New York that killed 2996 people. In it, panicked voices can be heard pointing out some odd happenings including a 'sickly sweet smell' and 'raining paper'.

Now, the facts behind these mysteries can be laid bare, the Mirror reports.

'Sickly sweet smell'

In the frantic footage, an eyewitness can be heard exclaiming: "The smell is unbelievable."

As the Twin Towers became engulfed in flames, toxic air particles from the burning building materials filled the New York air, leaving a stench that lasted until December 2001 according to survivor Peter Messaien.

He wrote: "A mixture of vaporised burnt plastic, electronics, burnt paper, wood, steel and concrete, jet fuel, ozone and a sickly sweet edge and lot of very old awakened NYC dust."

In the documentary, a shell-shocked pair of workers who were covered in white dust save from a small patch on their faces where someone had poured water discussed this.

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"Whatever this stuff is, I hope it doesn't kill us," said the woman.

Many of the people who survived the attacks would go on to become ill as a result of breathing in the dangerous air. John Mormando is one of a group of 15 men who got breast cancer, a condition that's rare in men.

He told the Guardian: "We went back to work exactly one week after 9/11, while the towers were still burning and everything else crumbled around us.

"We were told that the air was fine, and we needed to get back to work. It was ridiculous. It was horrible."

'Raining paper'

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Raining paper features in most footage taken in New York on September 11 2001. As the World Trade Centre were office buildings, files too light to simply fall were kept afloat by wind and gradually rained down upon New York residents.

A journalist called Robert Siegel sifted through the paper to find a CV that belonged to a man named Gil Avital.

Robert tracked Gil down and spoke to him about his discovery, learning that he had been applying for a job as dining room manager at Windows on the World in the North Tower.

After hearing about the attack, Gil admitted he and his wife had wondered what would have happened if he had been called for an interview.

Another poignant discovery was that of a bible, found by a firefighter fused to some metal debris.

Incredibly pages were still legible, and the book was fittingly open at text reading "an eye for an eye" and "resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also".

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The Falling Man

Some of the most sickening clips in the ITV documentary pick up reactions as people made the decision to jump.

Some say that the falling objects are people as others vehemently disagree, shocked and unable to process the horror that is unfolding in front of them.

Around 200 people jumped. The fall was said to take about ten seconds, reaching a terminal velocity of around 125mph in most cases.

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The New York chief medical examiner's spokesperson resented using the word "jump" when discussing these victims.

She said: "Jumping indicates a choice, and these people did not have that choice.

"That is why the deaths were ruled homicide, because the actions of other people caused them to die. The force of explosion and the fire behind them forced them out of the windows."

This aspect of the tragedy also produced one of its most poignant photographs, that of 'The Falling Man' who looks serene as he hurtles towards the ground head first.

His identity was never uncovered, though he was thought to be a worker at the Windows on the World restaurant.

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