Special Report 9/14/01
Day of infamy: A timeline of terror
On the morning of September 11, tens of thousands of Americans headed to work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, oblivious to the surreal tale of terror about to unfold. Tragedy followed tragedy with horrifying speed:
7:58 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 leaves Boston bound for Los Angeles with 65 people aboard; before two minutes have passed, American Airlines Flight 11 takes off for Los Angeles, and United Airlines Flight 93 departs Newark for San Francisco. Terrorists hijack all three planes and also seize American Airlines Flight 77 after it leaves Washington Dulles airport at 8:21 a.m.
8:46 a.m. The first kamikaze plane, American Flight 11, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center with 92 people aboard. Smoke billows from a gaping hole in the tower, once the tallest building in the world and long a symbol of American commercial prowess.
9:03 a.m. In an indelible moment replayed throughout the day, United Flight 175 crashes into the twin south tower of the World Trade Center, igniting a fireball. A vast plume of smoke erupts from the 110-floor building. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who sped to the disaster, says, "It was the most horrific scene I've ever seen . . . . We could see people jumping from the top of the building."
9:21 a.m. New York City orders all bridges and tunnels in the area closed.
9:30 a.m. From Florida, a grim-faced President Bush says the United States has suffered an "apparent terrorist attack" and vows "to hunt down and find those folks who committed this act."
For the first time, the Federal Aviation Administration grounds all domestic flights.
9:43 a.m. After herding more than 50 passengers and the pilots to the rear of the plane, hijackers, wielding knives and box-cutters, crash American Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Smoke and flames erupt from the nation's military headquarters.
9:45 a.m. The White House is evacuated. Within an hour, Congress, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Supreme Court, and all other federal buildings are evacuated.
9:57 a.m. Bush departs Florida on Air Force One for an undisclosed location.
9:59 a.m. As workers and onlookers run for their lives, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. Steel, glass, and concrete shower nearby blocks. Those caught in the resulting dust describe it as being dark as night. NBC anchor Tom Brokaw likens the scene to a nuclear winter.
10:10 a.m. United Flight 93, with 45 people aboard, crashes near Shanksville, Pa., about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The hijacked plane is thought to be on a flight path toward the U.S. Capitol, the White House, or Camp David.
10:28 a.m. The other World Trade Center tower caves in. An apocalypticlike column of smoke rises above Manhattan. "Oh, my gosh," murmurs ABC anchor Peter Jennings.
11:02 a.m. Mayor Giuliani, having postponed New York City primary elections shortly before, orders an evacuation of part of lower Manhattan.
11:19 a.m. The Securities and Exchange Commission announces that all U.S. financial markets are closed. Crude oil prices top $30 a barrel.
12:20 p.m. A New York police official warns the death toll may rise into the thousands.
12:53 p.m. CNN airs footage from Kabul, Afghanistan, of Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel denying involvement in the attacks. Shortly thereafter, a commentator on Iraqi state TV says, over footage of the New York explosions, "The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of his crimes against humanity." Throughout the afternoon, various Arab terrorist groups deny responsibility for the assaults.
1:04 p.m. At Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush says the U.S. military is on a "high alert status" worldwide and pledges to "do whatever is necessary to protect America and Americans."
1:27 p.m. A state of emergency is declared in Washington, D.C.
2:35 p.m. Mayor Giuliani refuses to speculate about the number of dead in the World Trade Center wreckage. He says some 2,000 rescue workers are searching for victims, with the National Guard relieving exhausted police officers and firefighters. Giuliani brands the terrorist attacks "one of the most heinous acts . . . in world history."
4 p.m. Media report that U.S. officials say there are "good indications" that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden is linked to the attacks.
4:25 p.m. The stock exchanges and Nasdaq announce that they will remain closed on Wednesday. Baseball games are canceled, and Disney World and Disneyland have closed for the day.
5 p.m. Thousands of New Yorkers and residents of other cities have lined up to donate blood to aid victims of the attacks.
5:05 p.m. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declares a day of mourning in Israel as a show of solidarity.
5:20 p.m. Aftershocks continue. All 47 stories of World Trade Center Building 7 fall.
6:58 p.m. President Bush disembarks from Marine One at the White House.
7:17 p.m. Attorney General John Ashcroft announces an FBI Web site, www.ifccfbi .gov, for tips on the attacks.
7:29 p.m. On the steps of the Capitol, members of Congress from both parties band together to condemn the attack and vow retribution. They finish by singing "God Bless America."
7:45 p.m. New York City officials say that as many as half of the 400 firefighters initially on the scene are dead and that at least 78 police officers are missing.
8:30 p.m. "Today our nation saw evil," President Bush says in a nationally televised address. He orders the federal government to reopen on Wednesday morning. And he says he will make no distinction between terrorists who committed the attacks and nations that harbor them, in rooting out those responsible for the day's "acts of mass murder." Quoting Psalm 23, Bush urges people to take solace in God: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me."
10 p.m. Officials say that 100 to 800 people may be dead in the Pentagon attack. A weary Mayor Giuliani reports that the medical examiner's office "is ready to deal with thousands and thousands" of bodies. "People tonight should say a prayer for the people that we've lost and be grateful that we're all here," says the mayor. "And tomorrow, New York is going to be here." -David Whitman and Sheila Thalheimer