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Two Window Washers Trapped On World Trade Center Are Rescued

A scaffolding cable had become loose while two men were working. The FDNY had to break through a window to bring them to safety.

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The New York Police Department told BuzzFeed News that the pair began hanging between the 67th and 68th floors of the 104-story skyscraper at around 12:42 p.m. EST.

The stranded workers, Juan Lizama and Juan Lopez, have been washing windows for 14 and five years respectively, said Rachel Cohen, a spokesperson for local chapter 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which represents window cleaners.

Cohen said the men are employed by a contractor, Upgrade, to clean the building, which is the tallest in the U.S.

NYFD Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters that one of the scaffold's cables developed slack on the west side, lowering the scaffold from a horizontal to a vertical position.

The pair was rescued around 2.20 p.m. ET by NYPD and FDNY emergency workers, who broke through windows to reach the men.

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The rescue operation involved lowering a rope from the roof of the 104-story building to secure the men, Nigro said.

A radio was also lowered so that rescue workers could communicate with the stranded men.

"They reported to us they were ok and they felt secure," said FDNY Rescue Batallion Chief Joe Jardin.

"We just reassured them that we were working deliberately and in a positive direction to gain access to them," Jardin said.

Three layers of glass had to be cut, some with diamond saws, in order to reach the pair.

The men were transferred to hospital, suffering from mild hypothermia.

Watch the moment the FDNY broke through the glass to rescue the cleaners:

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"We're overjoyed and incredibly relieved that they are safe and sound," Cohen said. "We're glad that they have the safety protocols so that it's all ended well and that these men will be going home to their families tonight."

Remarkably, the Port Authority Police Department, which oversees security at the World Trade Center, had trained for this kind of emergency just 10 days ago.

The plaza around the World Trade Center, including the 911 memorial and museum, was cleared during the rescue operation.

"Safety is obviously the paramount issue here," Cohen said. "It has long been important that companies maintain the highest standards of safety. This is especially important for window cleaners."

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FDNY tweeted this photo of the rescue operation:

Now: #FDNY rescuing workers trapped on scaffolding outside 1 World Trade Center. View from the 68th floor.

FDNY@FDNYFollow

Now: #FDNY rescuing workers trapped on scaffolding outside 1 World Trade Center. View from the 68th floor.

1:46 PM - 12 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

PICTURED: The moment of rescue for one of the scaffold workers. #1WTC http://t.co/NdMD359Sro @BreakingNews

CBS New York@CBSNewYorkFollow

PICTURED: The moment of rescue for one of the scaffold workers. #1WTC http://t.co/NdMD359Sro @BreakingNews

2:20 PM - 12 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Many people followed the rescue on social media:

Wow came to see the One #WorldTradeCenter & window washer is dangling. Supposedly 2 washers are trapped #nyc

Paige Marie@PaigeMarieYallFollow

Wow came to see the One #WorldTradeCenter & window washer is dangling. Supposedly 2 washers are trapped #nyc

1:01 PM - 12 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

A previous version of this article relayed information that the scaffold's cables had snapped. The FDNY now says this information was wrong, and that the cable only developed slack. This version has been updated to reflect this information.

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

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