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America Under Attack: Near-Simultaneous Terrorist Attacks Committed in Washington D.C. and New York City

Aired September 11, 2001 - 14:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York Governor George Pataki talking to reporters. The mayor urged New Yorkers to be calm and said they had been, and indeed in every picture we have seen of the area around the trade center, people were evacuating in a very calm, deliberate, no panic, that we have been able to see from the pictures we have taken, and the reporting we have done.

The mayor said 1,500 walking wounded, as he's described it, have been taken to Liberty State Park, 600 people in local hospitals, at least 150 people in critical condition. But in fact, the mayor said, he would not even venture a guess at thee numbers will become, as this day continues to unfold, and tomorrow, he acknowledged it will be several days before we really know how many people have been hurt, how many people have died.

We would add one other point here. I don't believe we have mentioned. As you know, airports around the country have been shutdown. Every airport around the country has been shutdown for the first time in the country's history. The FAA says now, there will be no commercial air traffic in the United States until at least noon tomorrow.

No commercial flights anywhere in the country, not just New York and Washington, anywhere, until noon tomorrow. We know that many of you are just now coming home, getting -- joining us, and so we want to walk you through what has gone on both here in New York City and in Washington.

We go to Atlanta and our colleague Joie Chen.

Joie, good afternoon.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Extraordinary coverage there on the rooftops of New York of this extraordinary and horrific series of events that we have been watching throughout this day here on CNN. Acts of terrorism, and it's such an unprecedented scope and scale. It is really quite difficult to follow, and quite frankly, there has been an enormous amount of confusion, as all these events were unfolding to the day, so we are trying as best as we can to try to walk you through all this now, to bring you all up to date on what we know about the events that have taken place today. Beginning at 8:45 this morning, that is Eastern Time, when the World Trade Center, the workday was well under way there in lower Manhattan, an airliner crashing into one of Twin Towers of Trade Center. The people in New York, and then very quickly, people all around the nation watching just terrible horror as the thick, black smoke billowed from the tower, but that, as turned out was really just the beginning.

Eighteen minutes later, just 18 minutes later, you see in the highlighted picture there on the right side, another very big commercial jumbo jet moving toward the other tower of the world trade center, and there, you see again, the explosion taking place on camera for all to see, quite specifically designed to do that. That was at 9:03 Eastern. Cameras are trained on the two twin centers.

Of course, you know that the trade center what target of a terror bombing back in 1993 which killed six people. The attack injured so many more, and it really does pale in comparison to what we are seeing today, although, as you just you heard, from the mayor for the city of New York, nobody want to make a guess yet on what the total with be.

In the middle of all of this, suddenly Washington became a target. You see it here. This is the Pentagon, which we always view as some sort impenetrable fortress, the Pentagon, the symbol of the nation's military might, also a command post today. The Pentagon wracked by the explosion that occurred at 9:45 this morning. Witnesses say that the commercial aircraft crashed into the Army side of building. That has been confirmed by authorities, as about the time the federal government ordered all the nation's airports closed and ordered all planes in the air to get on the ground.

And as you just heard from Aaron Brown, commercial aircraft will not be in nation's skies until sometime tomorrow.

Now most ahead to 10:00 Eastern. The first of two Trade Center towers collapses. And you see the tremendous plume of smoke and debris left. This is an image that we cannot forget. That was the visual sighting. You see really almost an implosion, as it gave away all that was left, the ash falling from the top of the tower as it came down. Twenty-nine minutes later, the second trade center tower collapsing.

We can report that we know some 50,000 people work daily in the area of the trade center buildings. These towers, their U.S. landmarks, they receive tens of thousands of visitors each day. The mayor of New York City does believe he says a horrendous number of lives has been lost in the course of this tragedy, but he did not want to wager any sort of speculation on what the final toll would be.

As one witness told us, that in the moments before the buildings collapsed, he saw people leaping, leaping, to try to save their own lives from the Trade Center towers.

Back in Washington, we get a closer look at what occurred at the Pentagon, what was left, the great flames and the gaping hole of the Pentagon, apparently left by that hijacked plane that crashed into the Department of Defense. Again, we're told this is the Army side of the building, of the Pentagon building, which of course has five sides.

Now a commercial aircraft we also know has crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. That is south, southeast of Pittsburgh, about 80 miles south, southeast of Pittsburgh, along I-76. The report said that just before the crash, a passenger was on board, telephoned 911, saying that the plane had been hijacked, and trying to warn, trying to get help.

Now that would account, would explain the crash there, for all four planes that have been confirmed as being hijacked over U.S. skies today. Again, two crashing into the World Trade Center towers. One, into the Pentagon. And this last one, you see the debris of it there, in the agricultural area, the farming areas, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

We want to try to show you some live pictures of lower Manhattan. At this hour, again, you still see a thick plume of smoke there.

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