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A morning of terror

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001

8:45 a.m. An American Airlines commuter flight believed to have been hijacked from Boston crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers, just as tens of thousands of people are reporting to work in lower Manhattan. Smoke is seen pouring from the hole in the tower's side.

9: A second plane, apparently also hijacked, crashes into the other World Trade Center tower as America watches live TV coverage of the aftermath of the first crash. News cameras capture the plane as it swings around the building and hits the side of the tower, exploding into a fireball. CNN reports people jumping from both towers as chaos grips the area.

[Photo: AP]
Members of the Secret Service with bomb sniffing dogs inspect the luggage of the media travel pool on the tarmac of Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport on Tuesday. President Bush had had an early morning appearance at an elementary school in Sarasota.

9:05: At an elementary school in Sarasota, President Bush is informed of the apparent attacks and decries the "national tragedy" before returning to Washington. New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets close. The London Stock Exchange closes.

9:45: White House evacuated after the Secret Service receives threat of a terrorist act against the presidential mansion and residence. The U.S. Capitol and the Sears Tower in Chicago are evacuated as well. Congressional leaders sequestered in an undisclosed location.

9:50: The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all aircraft takeoffs nationwide. Shortly after, all planes in the air are ordered to land at the nearest airport.

10:09: One of the World Trade Center towers collapses among a maelstrom of falling rubble, dust and fire. Another explosion is heard but it is unclear if it was another attack or stemmed from the collapse.

10:25: An airplane crashes into the helipad at the Pentagon, just across the Potomac from Washington. A car bomb explodes outside the U.S. State Department in Washington.

10:30: The second World Trade Center tower collapses. Firefighters and other rescue workers reportedly are trapped the rubble, are heard calling for help.

10:30: Federal government closes offices in and around Washington. All 340,000 federal employees are allowed to leave at their discretion. National Park Service closes major landmarks and monuments, including the Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument and the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Other major facilities closed or evacuated, including the tallest skyscrapers in Boston, Cleveland and Minneapolis and Seattle's landmark Space Needle.

10:45: A United Airlines plane, en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, crashes in western Pennsylvania near the small Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. It is unclear if the crash is related to the other attacks.

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Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Washington Post and CNN.

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