12 SEPTEMBER 2001
The Malta Financial and Business Times team reports
Terrorists hit at the heart of the US yesterday as multiple attacks on key buildings in New York City and Washington D.C. during the morning hours killed and injured an undisclosed number of people who were just making their way to work.
The string of terrorist attacks started at 8.45AM New York time, when a commercial plane crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Barely 18 minutes had passed when a second passenger plane crashed into the second tower.
The dramatic situation was followed by a third plane attack on the Pentagon, which is the US militarys nerve centre, in Washington D.C. The hijacked plane crashed into the home of the United States Defence Department, part of which later collapsed.
Barely had the dust settled from these initial attacks when the first tower of the World Trade Centre collapsed to the ground blanketing Manhattan Island in a cloud of ash and building material. The second tower collapsed shortly after. Both towers were 110 floors high and some 50,000 people are reported to work inside. The World Trade Centre also attracts an average of 150,000 visitors on a typical day.
The shock of the multiple terror attacks had started to sink in when a fourth plane crashed near Somerset, Pennsylvania. The plane carried 54 people on board and none of them survived.
At least the first three planes had been hijacked while on domestic flights. United Airlines and American Airlines reported the loss of two passenger jets each with a total of 260 passengers and crew members on board. Following the plane attacks all US domestic flights were cancelled and trans-atlantic flights were re-directed to Canada. Furthermore, all Federal buildings including the Supreme Court were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
President Bush cancelled an appearance in Florida to return to Washington amid tight security, however his return was re-routed to a military airbase in Louisiana. The President described the crashes "apparent terrorist attacks" and "a national tragedy." He vowed to hunt down the terrorists.
More than 10,000 rescue personnel scrambled to the devastating scene
at the World Trade Centre. The entire downtown area of Manhattan was
evacuated. The 24,000 employees at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.,
were also evacuated and the militarys nerve centre was transferred
to an undisclosed place.