Doomed passenger called her husband

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The wife of a senior US official called her husband twice on her mobile phone from one of the hijacked planes, describing how passengers and crew had been herded to the back of the plane, before it dived and crashed into the Pentagon, killing all on board.

Mrs Barbara Olson, 46, a commentator for the television network CNN, told her husband, the US Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the only weapons she could see the hijackers holding were knives and cardboard cutters.

The aircraft is believed to have been an American Airlines flight, which was hijacked en route from Washington to Los Angeles, carrying 64 passengers and crew.

CNN reported how Mrs Olson managed to use her mobile phone covertly. "She called her husband twice during the hijacking to tell him the plane had been hijacked," CNN reported. Mr Olson said his wife had made no reference to the nationality or the motive of the hijackers. "She said to Ted, 'What do I tell the pilot to do?' " CNN reported. "That was somewhat typical of Barbara, she was a take-charge kind of person. But there was nothing they could do."

Mrs Olson was not originally due to take the doomed flight – she was supposed to fly on Monday to be back for breakfast with her husband yesterday, his birthday.