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Sept. 11, 2001: A timeline of the terrorism that shocked the nation

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published September 11, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) This is how yesterday"s mayhem unfolded:

At about 8:45 a.m., a hijacked airliner crashed into the north tower of the trade center, the 25-year-old, glass-and-steel complex that was once the world"s tallest.

Clyde Ebanks, an insurance company vice president, was at a meeting on the 103rd floor of the south tower when his boss said, "Look at that!" He turned to see a plane slam into the other tower.

"I just heard the building rock," said Peter Dicerbo, a bank employee on the 47th floor. "It knocked me on the floor. It sounded like a big roar, then the building started swaying. That"s what really scared me."

The enormity of the disaster was just sinking in when 18 minutes later, the south tower also was hit by a plane.

"All this stuff started falling and all this smoke was coming through. People were screaming, falling, and jumping out of the windows," said Jennifer Brickhouse, 34, from Union, N.J.

The chaos was just beginning. Workers stumbled down scores of flights, their clothing torn and their lungs filled with smoke and dust.

John Axisa said he ran outside and watched people jump out of the first building then there was a second explosion, and he felt the heat on the back of his neck.

Donald Burns, 34, was being evacuated from the 82nd floor when he saw four people in the stairwell. "I tried to help them but they didn"t want anyone to touch them. The fire had melted their skin. Their clothes were tattered," he said.

Worse was to come. At 9:50, one tower collapsed, sending debris and dust cascading to the ground.

At 10:30, the other tower crumbled.

Glass doors shattered, police and firefighters ushered people into subway stations and buildings. The air was black, from the pavement to the sky. The dust and ash were inches deep along the streets.

Giuliani said it was believed the aftereffects of the plane crashes eventually brought the buildings down, not planted explosive devices.

Hyman Brown, a University of Colorado civil engineering professor and the construction manager for the World Trade Center, speculated that flames fueled by thousands of gallons of aviation fuel melted steel supports.

"This building would have stood had a plane or a force caused by a plane smashed into it," he said.

"But steel melts, and 24,000 gallons of aviation fluid melted the steel. Nothing is designed or will be designed to withstand that fire."

At mid-afternoon, Giuliani said 1,500 "walking wounded" had been shipped to Liberty State Park in New Jersey by ferry and tugboat, and 750 others were taken to New York City hospitals, among them 150 in critical condition.

Well into the night, a steady stream of boats continued to arrive in the park. "Every 10 minutes another boat with 100 to 150 people on it pulls up," said Mayor Glenn Cunningham. "I have a feeling this is going to go on for several days."

Bridges and tunnels were closed to all but pedestrians. Subways were shut down for much of the day commuter trains were not running.

Meanwhile, at about 9:30 a.m., an airliner hit the Pentagon the five-sided headquarters of the American military. "There was screaming and pandemonium," said Terry Yonkers, an Air Force civilian employee at work inside the building.

The military boosted security across the country to the highest levels, sending Navy ships to New York and Washington to assist with air defense and medical needs.

A half-hour after the Pentagon attack, a United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 jetliner en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, crashed about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Airline officials said the other three planes that crashed were American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 from Boston to Los Angeles, apparently the first to hit the trade center United Airlines Flight 175, also a Boeing 767 from Boston to Los Angeles, which an eyewitness said was the second to hit the skyscrapers and American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington-Dulles to Los Angeles that a source said hit the Pentagon

Felix Novelli, who lives in Southampton, N.Y., was in Nashville with his wife for a World War II reunion. He was trying to fly home to New York when the attacks occurred.

"I feel like going to war again. No mercy," he said. "This is December 7th happening all over again. We have to come together like "41, go after them."

The attack on Pearl Harbor claimed the lives of 2,390 Americans, most of them servicemen.