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Terror, minute by minute

[AP photos]
Smoke obscures the Manhattan skyline after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. A jet hit one tower at 8:45 a.m.; the other was struck at 9:03 a.m.

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 12, 2001


A graphical look at the four doomed flights

7:59 A.M. American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 81 people aboard, takes off from Boston bound for Los Angeles. It is hijacked and forced south toward New York.

photo
Emergency workers help an injured man outside the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Lines of volunteers turned up at hospitals to give blood; many were turned away because the hospitals were not set up to accept donations.
8:45 A.M. Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center as thousands of people begin work inside. Amid the flames and smoke, horrified onlookers watch as bodies tumble from the ragged hole and shattered windows of the tower, nearly 100 stories above the street. Scraps of office paper rain on Brooklyn.

9:03 A.M. United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 737 carrying 64 people to Los Angeles, is hijacked shortly after takeoff from Boston. It crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center 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 rips into the side of the tower, exploding into a fireball. Some workers in both towers jump to their deaths to escape the flames.

Chaos grips lower Manhattan as bits of office equipment, shoes and debris rain on the streets. Hundreds of police and firefighters converge at the scene.

9:05 A.M. President Bush, reading to children at an elementary school in Sarasota, is quietly informed of the apparent attack by chief of staff Andrew Card. Twenty minutes later, he addresses the nation before boarding Air Force One, declaring: "Terrorism against our nation will not stand."

The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets suspend trading for the day. The London Stock Exchange closes.

photo
The streets of New York were thick with broken vehicles, husks of air conditioners and heating ducts after the attack. By early afternoon, the downtown area was cordoned off and a huge rescue effort was under way.

9:40 A.M. American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 737 bound for Los Angeles with 58 people on board, is hijacked just after takeoff from Washington Dulles Airport and crashes into the side of the Pentagon.

The impact crushes one side of America's military headquarters, trapping personnel inside. Nearly 100 people are feared dead or injured. Smoke billows across the Potomac River to Washington.

9:49 A.M. The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all aircraft takeoffs nationwide, for the first time in history. Shortly after, all planes in the air are ordered to land at the nearest airport. Incoming flights from Europe are diverted to Canada.

9:50 A.M. The White House and U.S. Capitol are evacuated after threats of terrorist acts against them. First lady Laura Bush is driven to an undisclosed location. Air Force One, en route from Sarasota, is diverted from Washington and escorted by fighter jets to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

10 A.M. As emergency officials frantically try to evacuate the wounded and clear the area, the south World Trade Center tower collapses in a maelstrom of fire and rubble, turning lower Manhattan into a choking, blinding blizzard of dust and smoke.

10:10 A.M. A passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 bound from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, dials 911 on his cell phone and tells a dispatcher, "We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked" before the line goes dead. The plane crashes near Somerset, Pa., 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Officials later say the hijacker apparently was trying to force the plane to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. It was carrying 45 people.

10:29 A.M. The north World Trade Center tower collapses. Hundreds of police and firefighters, along with thousands of office workers, are believed trapped in the rubble of the two towers. Cries for help are heard through the gloom. New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani says the death toll will be higher "than any of us can bear."

10:30 A.M. The federal government closes offices in and around Washington. All 340,000 federal employees are allowed to leave. The National Park Service closes major landmarks and monuments, including the Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument and the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

Other major facilities are closed or evacuated around the nation, including the tallest skyscrapers in Boston, Cleveland and Minneapolis and Seattle's landmark Space Needle. The United Nations in New York is evacuated.

NOON Blood collection centers are set up at around the country to ensure a steady supply for the thousands of injured people expected at hospitals in New York and Washington. At Florida Blood Services in St. Petersburg, 1,000 people will have given blood by 2 p.m.

1:04 P.M. President Bush, via videotape from Barksdale, vows to "hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." He flies to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb.

1:44 P.M. Two aircraft carriers are deployed off New York Harbor. Battleships are deployed in the Atlantic off Washington.

4:30 P.M. The White House announces the president will return to Washington.

5:25 P.M. A third, 47-story building at the World Trade Center -- called Seven World Trade Center -- collapses after being set on fire by burning debris. It had been evacuated earlier and was believed to be empty.

6:04 P.M. CNN reports explosions north of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, which is harboring terrorist Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in Tuesday's attacks. The White House denies U.S. involvement.

6:45 P.M. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield addresses the nation, saying "The Pentagon is functioning. It'll be in business tomorrow."

8:30 P.M. President Bush addresses nation, saying that the attacks will not cow the nation and that federal agencies will be reopen this morning. He vows to find those responsible. "The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts," he declares. "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these attacks and those who harbor them."

- Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, Scripps Howard and CNN.

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