9/11 20th anniversary

9/11 20th anniversary: what time did the attacks happen? what was the timeline of the events?

There were 2,750 people killed in New York, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania. 20 years after, the questions, rage and anger remain.

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9/11 20th anniversary: what time did the attack happen? what's the timeline of the events?
SHANNON STAPLETON REUTERS

On September 11, 2001, 19 Al-Qaeda militants hijacked four aeroplanes and committed suicide attacks aimed at US targets which resulted in a death toll of over 3,000.

Two of the hijacked planes belonged to United and American Airlines and were deliberately crashed into the New York World Trade Center's twin towers, while a third plane was flown into the military Pentagon, close to Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a rural field in Shanksville, western Pennsylvania.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks were a key trigger for the following US initiatives to be passed under the Bush administration, aimed at combating terrorism.

Timeline of events

First Boeing 767 crashes into the north Tower- 8:45 a.m.

It was 8:45 a.m. on a regular Tuesday morning, when a plane filled up with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel cannoned into the NYC World Trade Center's north tower.

The impact, which immediately killed hundreds, was so vast that it left a burning hole close to the 80th floor of the skyscraper, trapping everyone who was working at that moment on the top 20 floors.

At first, everyone thought the crash was a tragic accident and therefore began an orderly evacuation of both towers, while hundreds of reporters broadcasted live images of the smoke-filled scene left by the plane.

Second Boeing 767 crashes into the south tower- 9:03 a.m.

Nevertheless, this thought of it being an accident vanished when 18 minutes later a second Boeing 767, this time from United Airlines, headed directly towards the World Trade Center's south tower and impacted seconds later on the 60th floor of the building.

Tom Canavan, who worked on the 47th floor of 1 World Trade Center and was buried alive when the first tower fell on 9/11, touches the engraving with the name of his coworker at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, New York, U.S., August 25, 2021.

Third flight crashes into the Pentagon's west side- 9:45 a.m.

With a whole nation in suspense for those people's lives, millions watched events unfolding on the city that famously never sleeps. Meanwhile, Flight 77 suspiciously circled the skies of   downtown Washington, D.C., minutes before crashing into the Pentagon's west side, the building being a global symbol of the US military, at 9:45 a.m.

The plane's burning hot jet fuel would result in the collapse of part of the steel and concrete building.

Twin towers south building collapses- 10:00 a.m.

In a matter of just 15 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, the horror in New York turned into utter chaos as the south tower of the World Trade Center, built to withstand nearly every natural hazard, could not cope with the heat of the burning fuel and collapsed in a cloud of dust and smoke.

Fourth plane crashes in western Pennsylvania- 10:10 a.m.

In the meantime, a fourth plane, also from United, was hijacked mid-air 40 minutes after the take-off in New Jersey.

Passengers on board knew about the events unfolding in NY due to a delay in their flight and when the hijackers announced the plane was not going to land in an airport, people knowing what was about to happen, planned an insurrection to stop the terrorists.

“I know we’re all going to die," passenger Thomas Burnett told his wife over the phone. "There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.”

The passengers fought the four Al-Qaeda militants, managing the force the plane to hit the ground at a speed of 500 miles per hour in a rural field near Shanksville, in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. They couldn't save their lives from this tragic fate, but they definitely saved the lives of many, many others and are rightly remembered as heroes. 

Twin towers north building collapses- 10:30 a.m.

Finally, at 10:30 a.m. the north building of the towers collapsed, in the same way its twin did half an hour before.

Only six people inside the WTC towers at the time of collapse survived, leaving around a further 10,000 others with injuries, many of them severe.