photo by © Mark
8:46 to 10:29 AM: At least 100 people (some accounts
say as many as 250), primarily in the North Tower, trapped by fire and smoke
in the upper floors, jump to their deaths. There is some evidence that large
central portions of the floor near the impact zone in the North Tower collapsed
soon after the plane hit. One person at street level, firefighter
Daniel Thomas Suhr, is hit by a jumper and dies. No form of airborne evacuation
is attempted as smoke is too dense for a successful landing on the roof of
8:49:34 AM: The first news and radio organizations
report an explosion or incident at the World Trade Center. CNN breaks into
a commercial at 8:49. CNN headlines first read "World Trade Center disaster."
Carol Lin, who was the first anchor to break the news of the attacks, said:
"Yeah. This just in. You're looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot
there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this
morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade
Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously
calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but
clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on
the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of
one of the towers of the World Trade Center." Later, Sean Murtagh, CNN vice-president
of finance, in an on-air phone call, said from his office in the CNN New York
bureau that a large passenger commercial jet hit the World Trade Center. Murtagh
was the first network employee on the air. The first email bulletins of breaking
news from CNN and MSNBC report "fire at tower of World Trade Center". Both
CNN and MSNBC's websites receive such heavy traffic, that many servers collapse.
BBC News' website is active and shows a picture of the North Tower on fire.
Minutes later, email news bulletins revise the reports of fire to a plane
8:51 AM: A flight controller at the FAA's New York
Center notices that Flight 175 had changed its transponder code twice four
minutes earlier; he tries to contact the flight.
8:51 to 8:54 AM (approx.): Hijacking begins on Flight
8:53 AM: The F-15s at Otis Air Force Base are airborne.
Still lacking an intercept vector to Flight 11 (and not aware that it has
already been crashed), they are sent to military controlled airspace off Long
Island and ordered to remain in a holding pattern until between 9:09 and
8:54 AM: Flight 77 deviates from its assigned course
to Los Angeles, turning south over Ohio. Two minutes later, its transponder
is turned off.
8:55 AM (approx.): Announcements are made
by officials in the still-undamaged South Tower of the World Trade Center
that the building is "secure", and that people may return to their offices,
over the building-wide PA system. Some do not hear it; others ignore it and
evacuate anyway; others congregate in common areas like the 78th floor sky
8:55 AM: President George W. Bush is at Emma E.
Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, as part of a scheduled visit
to promote education and the Bush administration education policies when Presidential
Advisor Karl Rove tells him that a small, twin-engine plane had crashed into
the World Trade Center. The president speaks to National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice at the White House; she reports that it was a commercial
9:03:13 AM: United Airlines flight
175 (another Boeing 767) crashes with a speed of about 590 miles per hour
into the south side of the South Tower, banked between floors 78 and 84. By
this time, several media organizations are covering the first plane crash;
millions see the impact live. Parts of the plane leave the building at its
east and north sides, falling to the ground six blocks away. Some mistakenly
believe that a second explosion has occurred in the North Tower due to the
North Tower's obstruction of the South Tower from certain camera angles.
They were unaware that a second plane had struck the South Tower. A massive
evacuation begins in the South Tower below its impact zone. One of the stairwells
in the South Tower remains unblocked from the top to the bottom of the tower,
but filled with smoke. This led many people to mistakenly go upwards towards
the roof for a rooftop rescue that never came. CNN's headline now reads "Second
plane crashes into World Trade Center."
9:06 AM: After brief introductions to the Booker
elementary students, President Bush is about to begin reading with the students
when Chief of Staff Andrew Card interrupts to whisper to the president, "A
second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack." The president
stated later that he decided to continue the lesson rather than alarm the
9:08 AM: The FAA bans all takeoffs nationwide
for flights going to or through New York Center airspace. ABC reports later
that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the
New York-area airports, asked the FAA for permission to close down the New
York Center airspace.
9:15 AM (approximately): President Bush leaves the
classroom in which he has been reading with students, and enters another,
commandeered by the Secret Service. It contains a telephone, a television
showing the news coverage, and several senior staff members. The president
speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney, Dr. Rice, New York Governor George Pataki,
and FBI Director Robert Mueller, and prepares brief remarks.
9:18 AM: CNN makes reference to foul play for the
first time, stating the FBI was investigating a report of plane hijacking.
CNN headline: "AP: Plane was hijacked before crashed".
9:23 AM: Flight 93 receives warning message text
from United Airlines flight dispatcher: "Beware any cockpit intrusion- Two
a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center."
9:29 AM: President Bush makes his first public statements
about the attacks, in front of an audience of about 200 teachers and students
at the elementary school. He states that he will be going back to Washington,
that "we've had a national tragedy", and leads a moment of silence. After
the speech, he is bound for Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and
Air Force One.
9:33 to 9:34 AM: Tower supervisor at Reagan National
Airport tells Secret Service operations center at the White House that "an
aircraft [is] coming at you and not talking with us," referring to Flight
77. The White House is about to be evacuated when the tower reports that Flight
77 has turned and is approaching Reagan International Airport.
9:37 AM: Based on a report that Flight 77 had turned
again and was circling back, Vice President Cheney is evacuated from the White
House to an underground tunnel leading to a security bunker.
9:37:46 AM: American Airlines flight
77 (Boeing 757) crashes into the western side of the Pentagon and starts a
violent fire. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated,
unoccupied offices. Barbara K. Olson had called her husband, Solicitor General
Theodore Olson at the Justice Department at 9:25 from the plane to tell him
about the hijacking and to report that the passengers and pilots were held
in the back of the plane. 125 people are killed.
9:41 AM: CNN's Breaking News bulletin reads "Reports
of fire at Pentagon", its first reference to the incident at the Pentagon.
9:45 AM: United States airspace is
shut down. No civilian aircraft are allowed to take off, and all aircraft
in flight are ordered to land at the nearest airport as soon as practical.
All international flights headed for the U.S. are redirected to Canada. Transport
Canada, the Canadian transportation agency, follows the American lead and
closes down their airspace. The FAA announces that civilian flights are suspended
until at least noon September 12, while Transport Canada gives similar orders,
but until further notice, to take in diverted U.S.-bound international flights,
launching the agency's "Operation Yellow Ribbon." The groundings last until
September 14. Military and medical flights continue. This is the fourth time
all commercial flights in the U.S. have been stopped, and the first time a
suspension was unplanned. All previous suspensions were military-related (Sky
Shield I-III), from 1960 to 1962. Many newspapers (including The New York
Times) mistakenly print that this is the first time flights have been suspended.
This was also the first time commercial flights in Canada have been stopped.
9:48 AM: The U.S. Capitol and West
Wing of the White House are evacuated.
9:57 AM: President Bush leaves Sarasota,
Florida, on Air Force One. The plane reaches cruising altitude and circles
for approximately 40 minutes while the destination of the plane is discussed.
9:59:04 AM: The South Tower of the
World Trade Center collapses, 55 minutes 51 seconds after the impact of Flight
175. Its destruction is viewed and heard by a vast television and radio audience.
As the roar of the collapse goes silent, tremendous gray-white clouds of pulverized
concrete and gypsum rush through the streets. Most observers think a new
explosion or impact has produced smoke and debris that now obscures the South
Tower. When the wind finally clears the immediate space, it is plain to see
that the tower is
10:03 AM: United Airlines flight 93
(Boeing 757) crashes southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset county, Pennsylvania.
Some accounts say that the time was 10:06 or 10:10 AM. The first reports from
the police indicate that no one on board survived. A passenger reached officials
on his cell phone from the plane's rest room, repeatedly claiming that the
plane was hijacked and that the call was not a hoax. Later reports indicate
that passengers speaking on cell phones had learned about the World Trade
Center and Pentagon crashes and at least three were planning on resisting
the hijackers. One passenger told his wife that one person had already been
stabbed to death by the hijackers. It is likely that the resistance led to
the plane crashing before it reached its intended target. A black box recording,
retrieved and later played to relatives of the victims, supports this scenario,
and it further
suggests that the passengers succeeded in entering the cockpit.
10:10 AM: Part of the Pentagon collapses.
10:11 AM: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado,
home to the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) is sealed against
attack for the first time.
10:13 AM: Thousands are evacuated from
the United Nations headquarters.
10:10 to 10:15 AM (approximately): Vice President
Cheney, unaware that Flight 93 has crashed, authorizes fighter aircraft to
engage the inbound plane, reported to be 80 miles (129 km) from Washington,
based not on radar (from which it has disappeared) but speed and trajectory
10:28 AM: the northern tower of the
World Trade Center collapses from the top down, after burning approximately
103 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of American Airlines flight 11.
The fact that the northern tower withstood much longer than the southern one
is later attributed to three facts: the region of impact was higher, the
speed of the airplane was lower, and the affected floors had their fire proofing
upgraded. The evacuated Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is destroyed
by falling debris. The collapse is registered as a 2.3 magnitude quake on
10:35 AM (approximately), police are reportedly
alerted about a bomb in a car outside the State Department in Washington,
D.C.. Later reports claim that nothing happened at the State Department.
10:39 AM: another hijacked jumbo jet
is claimed to be headed for Washington, D.C. F15s are scrambled and patrol
the airspace above Washington, D.C. while other fighter jets sweep the airspace
above New York City. According to (unconfirmed) rumors they have orders to
shoot down any potentially dangerous planes that do not comply with orders
given to them via radio.
10:45 AM: CNN reports that a mass evacuation
of Washington and New York has been started. The UN headquarters are already
empty. A few minutes later, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani orders an evacuation
of lower Manhattan.
10:50 AM: five stories of the Pentagon collapse
due to the fire.
10:53 AM: New York's primary elections are canceled.
11:16 AM: American Airlines confirms
the loss of its two airplanes.
11:17 AM: United Airlines confirms
the loss of Flight 93 and states that it is "deeply concerned" about Flight
11:53 AM: United Airlines confirms
the loss of its two airplanes.
11:55 AM: the border between the U.S. and
Mexico is on highest alert, but has not been closed.
12:00 PM (approximately): President Bush arrives
at Barksdale Air Force Base in
Louisiana. He was on a trip in Sarasota, Florida to speak about education,
but is supposedly now returning to the Capital. He made a brief and informal
initial statement to the effect that terrorism on U.S. soil will not be
tolerated, stating that "freedom itself has been attacked and freedom will
12:01 PM (approx.): Fourteen people, including twelve
firefighters, who were in a section of a stairwell in the North Tower that
held together during the collapse, climb the stairs to the top of the Ground
Zero rubble field.
12:02 PM: the Taliban government of
Afghanistan denounces the attacks.
12:04 PM: Los Angeles International
Airport, the intended destination of American Airlines flight 11 and flight
77, as well as United Airlines flight 175, is shut down.
12:15 PM: San Francisco International
Airport, the intended destination of United Airlines flight 93, is shut down.
1:00 PM: approx. At the Pentagon, fire crews are
still fighting fires. The early response to the attack had been coordinated
from the National Military Command Center, but that had to be evacuated when
it began to fill with smoke.
1:04 PM: President Bush puts the U.S.
military on high alert worldwide. He speaks from Barksdale Air Force Base
and leaves for SAC bunker in Nebraska.
1:27 PM Mayor Anthony A. Williams of Washington,
D.C., declares a state of emergency; the National Guard arrives on site.
2:39 PM: At a press conference New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani is asked to estimate the number of casualties at the World Trade
Center. He replies, "More than any of us can bear."
2:50 PM: President Bush arrives at Offutt Air Force
Base, Nebraska to convene a National Security Council teleconference via the
US Statcom bunker.
3:00 PM (approx.): Pasquale Buzzelli, who lost consciousness
in a North Tower stairway during the collapse, awakens to find himself lying
atop the debris with only a fractured foot.
4:25 PM: The New York Stock Exchange,
NASDAQ, and the American Stock Exchange report that they will remain closed
Wednesday September 12.
4:36 PM: President Bush departs Offutt Air Force
Base on Air Force One to return to Washington, D.C.
5:20 PM: 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story
building that had sustained what was originally thought to be light damage
in the fall of the twin towers and was earlier reported on fire, collapses.
The building contained New York's emergency operations center, operated by
the NYC Office of Emergency Management, originally intended to respond to
disasters such as the September 11 terrorist attacks.
6:00 PM: Explosions and tracer fire
are reported in Kabul, Afghanistan, by CNN and the BBC. The Northern Alliance,
involved in a civil war with the Taliban government, is later reported to
have attacked Kabul's airport with helicopter gunships.
6:00 PM: Iraq announces the attacks are the
fruit of "U.S. crimes against humanity" in an official announcement on state
6:00 PM: The last of the aircraft headed for the
U.S. to land at a Canadian airport lands at Vancouver International, since
it was over the Pacific.
6:54 PM: President Bush arrives at
the White House.
7:30 PM: U.S. Government denies any
responsibility for reported explosions in Kabul.
8:00 PM (approx.): Port Authority Police Officer
Will Jimeno, who was in an underground corridor between the two towers, is
found alive in the rubble.
8:30 PM: President Bush addresses the nation
from the White House. Among his phrases: "Today, our fellow citizens, our
way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate
and deadly terrorist acts," "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of
our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These
acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,"
and "The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts...we
will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts
and those who harbor them."
9:00 PM: President Bush meets his full National
Security Council, followed roughly half an hour later by a meeting with a
smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have evidence that Osama
bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and
the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, "Tell
the Taliban we're finished with them."
11:00 PM: There are reports (later
proved wrong) of survivors buried in rubble in New York making cell phone
calls. Only two more survivors will be pulled from the rubble on September
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Before 3:15 AM: Boston Herald reports that at least
five Arab men have been identified as suspects. Two of them were brothers,
and one a trained pilot. Their passports have been traced to the United Arab
Emirates. A car, rented in Portland, Maine, has been seized from the Logan
Airport garage, containing flight training manuals in Arabic. According to
CNN, FBI can neither confirm nor deny this. The men had been in a fight with
a man shortly before take-off; this man later recalled the incident and
called the police.
Before 3:50 AM: Jerusalem Post reports that
Osama Bin Laden has given a speech denying all connections to the attacks,
which he called admirable.
10:00 AM: Congress reconvenes.
10:53 AM: President George W. Bush holds a cabinet
meeting, saying that the attacks "were more than acts of terror. They were
acts of war."
12:30 PM (approximately): Genelle Guzman-McMillan
is pulled from the rubble of the north tower of the World Trade Center, and
is the last person pulled out of the buildings' collapse zones alive.
5:00 PM: Attorney General John
Ashcroft announces that some of the hijackers were pilots trained in the U.S.
7:00 PM: Candlelight vigils are held
in Washington Square, Union Square, Central Park, and various other locations
in New York City.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
The data recorder from United Airlines flight 93 is recovered.
Before 1:00 AM: German police raid an apartment
in Hamburg, apparently at the behest of the FBI, believed to have been used
by suspect passengers on the airline flight list. It is believed to be the
first police action outside the U.S. connected with the attack. Two people
are taken into provisional custody, one is an airport worker. Both were later
released, but re-arrested in late 2002.
It is announced that Ahmed Shah Massoud, a military leader
of the Northern Alliance, died on September 9 from wounds received during
a Taliban suicide attack.
On the orders of Elizabeth II, the 'Star-Spangled Banner'
is played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. This unprecedented
act was witnessed by a huge crowd, many singing along.
At the orders of Vladimir Putin, Russia observes a moment's
silence at noontime (Moscow time) with flags placed at half-staff throughout
Russia "in memory of terrorist acts' victims" .
Fighting back tears, President Bush vows that America will
"lead the world to victory" over terrorism in a struggle he termed the first
war of the 21st century.