9/11 in photos as the US marks anniversary of terror attacks

Images of the terror attack are as devastating as they were that fateful day

Charlotte Hodges,Helen Elfer,Clara Hill
Monday 11 September 2023 12:32 BST
Resurfaced ground zero footage shows reporter unaware that Twin Towers had collapsed

One of the worst terror attacks in world history, the trauma of 9/11 is still bitterly sharp more than 20 years on.

Images showing the horrifying events unfolding – as first one and then a second hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center, another struck the Pentagon and a fourth crash-landed in a Pennsylvania field – have lost none of their impact over time.

Perhaps those showing the human cost of the day, in which almost 3,000 died, are more poignant still – the fear on the faces of those fleeing for their lives, the exhaustion of the rescue workers battling to save whoever they could and the despair of those searching for missing loved ones.

And, later, people saw images of hope as crowds gathered for vigils, debris was cleared and people attempted to rebuild their lives and the city around them.

These pictures, viewed by millions around the globe in the aftermath of the attacks, led many to realise it had been a day that would change the course of history, not just for Americans, but for the world.

People hang from the windows of the North Tower

People inside both the North and South towers of the World Trade Center hung on for dear life after the planes hit on 11 September.

2,016 people died who worked in the two buildings.

US President George W Bush listens as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informs him of a second plane hitting the World Trade Center. Bush was conducting a reading seminar at the Emma E Booker Elementary School, in Sarasota, Florida

George W Bush, then president, was famously reading a storybook to a class of elementary students as he was informed about the attack.

He waited seven minutes for the book reading to finish before getting up, and later said he didn’t react so as not to scare the children. “I made the decision not to jump up ... and leave the classroom ... I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm,” he said in a National Geographic Channel documentary.

Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 flies towards the South Tower

The World Trade Center’s South Tower was hit approximately 19 minutes after the North Tower.

Once the second tower was hit, there was no doubt that it was an attack. President Bush vowed to “find those folks who committed this act” while at the Sarasota primary school.

People run from the collapse of one of the Twin Towers

Passersby were forced to flee the scene in a panic as debris from the attack fell onto the street below.

People look down the street at the World Trade Center in flames

Fires were ignited after the jet fuel interacted with other elements from the crash. After approximately an hour of burning, the buildings began to collapse into downtown Manhattan.

The South Tower is hit, becoming engulfed in flames

Most of the captured footage of the planes colliding into the New York City landmark were of the second plane. The first crash being such a shock, no cameras were pointing at it.

Mr Bush was told by an aide: “A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack”, during his book reading.

People run away as the North Tower collapses

Residents and tourists of the city had no clue where it was safe to take refugee as they ran from the tumbles of smoke, fire and building parts flying towards them.

A man covered in dust walks in the street near the World Trade Center Towers

People in the immediate vicinity of the building were covered in ash caused by the crash.

A man stands in the rubble, and calls out asking if anyone needs help, after the collapse of the first of the Twin Towers

The last survivor was pulled from the rubble of the collapsed buildings 27 hours after they fell.

Emergency vehicles stand before a damaged wall of the Pentagon

New York City was not the only place impacted by the hijacked planes as the Pentagon was also a target for al-Qaeda. They hit the government building at 9.37am.

Tower 2 dissolves in a cloud of dust and debris about half an hour after the first Twin Tower collapsed

Half an hour after the first tower fell, the second began to crumble, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Clouds of smoke dominated as people tried to flee for their lives, begin the rescue mission and process what had just happened.

People flee Lower Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge

People were seen panicking after the towers fell as there had been reports of other planes. There was uncertainty about whether there was going to be another to hit the city.

Firefighter Gerard McGibbon, of Engine 283 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, prays after the buildings collapsed

Gerard McGibbon died in 2021, aged 61. According to his obituary, he had three children with his wife Diana and was described as “the ultimate family man” who had managed to stay sober for seven years.

McGibbon was also a “dedicated” firefighter in New York City. In addition to helping after 9/11, he helped after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Marcy Borders stands covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building following the collapse of the Twin Towers

Marcy Borders worked as a bank teller at the Bank of America. After this picture emerged, she developed the nickname “Dust Lady” and gained international attention.

Borders carried significant trauma after 9/11. In 2014, she died aged 42 of stomach cancer she believed may have been a result of the dust and debris she was covered in on 9/11.

An ambulance, covered with debris and on fire, after the collapse of the first tower

After the attack was confirmed, ambulances were deployed to scene as soon as possible, according to documents published by City Hall.

An American flag is posted in the rubble of the World Trade Centre as firemen and rescue workers clear the debris

A collection of professionals tasked with clearing up the surrounding areas of the World Trade Center, an American flag is seen hanging in distance.

Many people said that American culture changed drastically by 9/11 as it was a catalyst for many international and domestic developments.

Thick smoke billows into the sky from the area behind the Statue of Liberty

Smoke was said to be seen all across the lower half of Manhattan

Survivor Edward Fine, who was on the 79th floor of the North Tower when it was struck, covers his mouth as he walks through the debris

Mr Fine worked on the 79th floor on the North Tower.

Ten years after the attack, he was quoted as saying, “I had no idea the photo was being taken but it became an iconic image. One picture editor told me it symbolised the resilience of the American businessman.”

A rescue worker is pulled from the rubble

According to New York City Hall, 91,000 rescue and recovery personnel were needed to clear up the destruction left by the events on 11 September.

In addition, they also have a scheme to claim compensation for any health issues caused during their work.

An unidentified New York City firefighter walks away after the collapse of the Twin Towers

Firefighters were integral to the clear up

Two people wear posters of a missing woman as they seek information following the attack on the World Trade Centre

Lorisa Taylor, the woman they are looking for, was later found dead in the wreckage. According to her obituary, she had spent the previous evening celebrating her seventh wedding anniversary with her husband Frank.

She was 31, had three children and worked in insurance at Marsh and McLennan.

Workmen begin the task of dismantling the destroyed remains World Trade Centre building

According to New York Magazine, 1.8 million tons of debris were removed from the scene in the nine months it took to clear the wreckage.

The Winter Garden surrounded by debris. Buildings nearby were heavily damaged by the falling twin towers

The Winter Garden, a shopping centre, sustained a considerable amount of damage. However it also provided an escape route for many fleeing the building as it toppled, according to reports in 2002 by The New York Times.

It was first opened in 1988.

Pedestrians look at photos of missing police and fire personnel missing a couple of weeks after the attacks

Out of the nearly 3,000 people that died in the attack, 412 were emergency workers, such as firefighters and police officers.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 10 law enforcement agencies suffered losses.

The damaged area of the Pentagon building

Along with a plane hitting a wall of the Pentagon, a fourth plane crash landed in a field in Pennsylvania, it was said it was aiming for Capitol Hill, according to reports.

New Yorkers set up a monument and a candlelight vigil to commemorate the missing

In the immediate period after the attack, it was unclear how many people were still missing.

According to NBC News, fifteen years after the attacks, some 40 per cent of people who were presumed dead had not had been identified yet, totalling 1,113 victims.

Some progress is believed to have been made as on 7 September, 2021, two more people were identified by local authorities, says reports.

NYPD police officer Ken Radigan rubs his eyes after briefly sleeping in a pew at St Paul’s Episcopal Chapel, near the site of the World Trade Center attack. The chapel served as a relief area for rescue workers

St Paul’s Episcopal Church is found across the street from the World Trade Center, and its officials were amazed to find it unscathed from the attacks, according to its website.

This led to being an epicentre of the relief effort, a place for donations for those in need and a place for breaks from the destruction outside.

An aerial view of the remains of the World Trade Centre, more than two weeks after the attacks

It took nine months to fully clear the area, which became known as Ground Zero.

Presently, One World Trade Center stands there. It’s a two-minute walk away from The National 9/11 Memorial Plaza .

Firefighter Tony James cries while attending the funeral service for New York Fire Department Chaplain Rev Mychal Judge, in front of the St Francis of Assisi Church on 15 September, 2001. Judge died while giving the last rites to a fireman in the collapse of the World Trade Centre

Chaplain Rev Mychal Judge was one of the 343 serving members of the New York Fire Department who lost their lives on 9/11. According to the Irish Times, he was the son of Irish-Catholic immigrants in Brooklyn during the Great Depression.

This article was first published in 2021

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