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Recent Pentagon strengthening saved lives

News : Cover story

RECENT STRENGTHENING and refurbishment of Washington's Pentagon building reduced the death toll resulting from last week's aircraft attack, its renovation manager said this week.

The only wedge to be strengthened so far took the brunt of the Boeing 757 impact.

'I think the fact that they happened to hit an area that we had built so sturdily was a wonderful gift, ' said Pentagon renovation manager Lee Evey.

Recent installation of steel members, blast resistant windows and bullet-proof textiles saved hundreds of lives by containing the blaze and debris and allowing survivors more time to escape the collapsing structure.

Around 3,500 workers were believed to be in the section of the building hit by the aircraft.

An estimated 124 people are thought to have died.

The aircraft crashed through the first three of the building's five concentric rings, destroying approximately 10% of the structure completely.

A new steel frame had given secondary support to the structure with Kevlar textile stretched between the members inside the walls to contain shrapnel.

The new frame was the only support to the structure after impact. Although this section collapsed after 35 minutes, the delay allowed people to escape.

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