Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 31.12.2001
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Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center

A tremendous number of lives is lost as the Twin Towers collapse. Terrorists had hijacked airplanes and steered them into the towers.


The second plane crashes into the World Trade Center. (picture taken from television)

The twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York collapsed after a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers early Tuesday morning.

One hour and fifteen minutes after the initial impact, one of the towers fell in a huge cloud of smoke and fire. Only half an hour later later, the other one also caved in. According to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a "tremendous number of lives" were lost.

The two 110-story towers were part of the largest commercial complex in the world. Thousands of people had already begun work in the many offices housed in World Trade Center when the first plane hit the south tower at about 8:45 a.m. local time. The second plane flew into the other tower some 18 minutes later.

The crashes caused huge explosions and opened a gaping hole near the top of the south tower. Fire broke out in the upper parts of both towers. Billowing clouds of black smoke could be seen over Manhattan.

One plane belonged to the US carrier American Airlines, the other to United Airlines. They both had been hijacked and were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center. Both planes had departed in Boston with destination Los Angeles. 148 people died in these two airplanes alone.

After the planes hit the buildings, people were desperately trying to escape from the towers. Some jumped to the street from shattered office windows. A fleet of ambulances carried injured people away from the scene. Local hospitals made urgent appeals for blood.

Horrendous Losses

When the first tower collapsed, a reporter on the scene observed: "People were hysterical, saying 'We're going to die.' A huge cloud of smoke and dust came up the avenue, looking like it was going to engulf everybody..."

After the second tower had also fallen, the whole of lower Manhattan was coated with half an inch (one centimeter) of dust.

After the attack, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ordered an evacuation of the lower part of Manhattan. "I would like to take this opportunity to tell everyone to remain calm and to the extent that they can, evacuate Lower Manhattan," Giuliani told a local broadcaster. He said that there had been no warning for the attacks.

The World Trade Center had once before been the scene of a terrorist attack: in February 1993, a car bomb attack killed six people, injured hundreds and caused $300 million in damage. Twelve people were tried for conspiracy that also involved a plot to bomb other high profile structures in New York. Among them were the United Nations, the FBI Building and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels leading into Manhattan from New Jersey under the Hudson River.

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