By The Eyeopener Staff
New York, Washington stunned by early morning attacks. Thousands feared dead
A series of well-orchestrated terrorist attacks brought the United States to its knees Tuesday, reducing the World Trade Center towers in New York to a pile of rubble and engulfing the Pentagon in flames. Just before 9 a.m two commercial planes crashed into the twin World Trade Centre towers in New York City, about 20 minutes apart. In a desperate move, people on the top floors of the 400-metre-plus towers jumped out the window as the buildings crumbled beneath them. Screaming sirens filled Manhattan as emergency workers scrambled to sift through the ruins and look for survivors.
Shortly after the New York attack, a large jet crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., leaving a scorched hole in the structure and sending plumes of smoke into the sky. A state of emergency was declared in Washington after the strike. Although no official death count was available Tuesday, authorities estimated the number to be in the thousands. Reports of fatalities, wounded and mutilated victims poured in as the day wore on. As news of the horror emerged, both of the World Trade Centre towers collapsed, leaving thousands of people trapped under tonnes of concrete and glass. Terrorists bombed the same buildings eight years ago, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others.
Throughout the day several commercial airlines reported missing jets with passengers on board. FBI sources said all three planes that crashed had been hijacked. Another plane, also believed to be hijacked, crashed just south of Pittsburgh, Pa. Authorities were unable to conclusively determine who was responsible for the deadly attacks that happened on the 20th United Nations International Day of Peace. The Pentagon, the White House, the State Department, the Justice Department and other government buildings in Canada and the U.S. were evacuated. By early afternoon U.S. President George W. Bush issued a statement saying that the United States “will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”
The border between Canada and the United States was closed and international flights to the U.S. were being rerouted to Canadian airports across the country. A spokesperson for the department of National Defense said Canadian officials are closely monitoring the situation south of the border. Prime Minister Jean Chretien expressed horror at the news. “It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people. There can be no cause or greivance that could ever justify such unspeakable violence,” Chretien said in a statement. “We stand ready to provide any assistance that our American friends may need at this very, very difficult hour and in the subsequent investigation.”
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians in the World Bank city of Nablus celebrated the horror on American streets, chanting “God is great” and distributed candy, the Associated Press reported. Toronto police Staff Sgt. Rob Knapper said New York requested emergency services and support from Toronto. Knapper said no extra security movements have been taken apart assisting with the evacuation of the United States consulate – a precaution that was decided by officers there.
Ontario hospitals prepared to accept victims of the New York tragedy, while health officials encouraged people to donate blood. Tim Thompson, 47, and Mike Miller, 50 who were vacationing in Toronto this week they aren’t sure how or when they will return home to Milwaukee. “We’re going to wait a day or so and let it settle down,” says Thompson. “I just got off the phone with [my family]. Everybody’s scared. Home is on our minds but in essence, I feel that this is the safest place we can be.”