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Window washers ‘doing well’ after scaffold mishap

November 13, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Investigators are looking into the collapse of a World Trade Center scaffold that left two window washers dangling from the nation’s tallest skyscraper, 1 World Trade Center.

The workers were trapped 68 stories above the street when a cable suddenly developed slack Wednesday.

The workers held on to the teetering platform for two agonizing hours. One called his wife during the ordeal, fearful that it might be his last opportunity to speak to her.

Firefighters used diamond cutters to saw through a double-layered window and pulled the men to safety.

The dramatic rescue, coming a little more than a week after the building officially opened, was followed by throngs of New Yorkers watching from the ground and many more around the world watching on live TV.

The window washers, Juan Lizama and Juan Lopez, were working on the south side of the lower Manhattan building when one of the platform’s four cables abruptly gave way, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. The open-topped platform tilted sharply and swayed slightly between the 68th and 69th floors, he said.

“It suddenly went from horizontal to nearly vertical,” Nigro said.

Officials haven’t determined what caused the cable problem, the fire commissioner said.

It was unclear whether anything about the design of the 1,776-foot (540-meter), 104-story skyscraper complicates working on the window washing scaffolds, which went into service in June.

The silvery $3.9 billion skyscraper that rose from the ashes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack, opened last week to 175 employees of magazine publisher Conde Nast. Steps away are two memorial fountains built on the footprints of the decimated twin towers, a reminder of the more than 2,700 people who died in the attack.

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Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong, Verena Dobnik, Deepti Hajela and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

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