September 11: 102 minutes that changed America

By AFP   September 11, 2016 | 10:33 am GMT+7

Today is the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Al-Qaeda plane hijackings of September 11, 2001, the first foreign attack on the U.S. mainland in nearly two centuries, ruptured a sense of safety and plunged the West into wars still being fought today.

Two planes smashed into New York's World Trade Center, leaving 2,753 dead. A third hit the Pentagon in Washington, killing 184, and 40 more died after a fourth plane headed for Washington crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt.

Here is the timeline of the events that fateful morning, which reshaped the course of U.S. history:

8:46 am - The first strike

An American Airlines Boeing 767 making a Boston-Los Angeles connection with 92 people on board, including five hijackers smashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, leaving a giant hole in the building's facade. Thick smoke trails into the sky from the tower's upper floors.

9:03 am - Second tower hit

A United Airlines Boeing 767 making a Boston-Los Angeles connection with 65 people on board, including five hijackers hits the South Tower of the WTC, sparking a massive explosion.

a hijacked commercial plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York. Photo by AFP/Seth Mcallister

a hijacked commercial plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York. Photo by AFP/Seth Mcallister

9:30 am - Bush speaks

Then U.S. president George W. Bush, in Sarasota, Florida, calls the blasts "an apparent terrorist attack." He orders "a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed these acts" and says he will immediately return to Washington.

9:37 am - Pentagon hit

An American Airlines Boeing 757 making a Washington Dulles-Los Angeles connection with 64 people on board, including five hijackers smashes into the Pentagon in suburban Washington, setting off two explosions.

9:42 am - Planes grounded

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) orders the cancellation of all commercial flights in the United States.

9:59 am - South Tower collapses

The WTC's South Tower, hit 56 minutes earlier, collapses in a huge cloud of smoke and dust.

10:03 am - Crash in Pennsylvania

A United Airlines Boeing 757 traveling from Newark to San Francisco with 44 people on board, including four hijackers crashes into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew apparently fought with the hijackers.

10:28 am - North Tower collapses

The north tower of the WTC collapses, an hour and 42 minutes after it was struck. A huge cloud of dust blankets lower Manhattan.

U.S. national flags erected by students as they pay their respects to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. Photo by AFP/Mark Ranston

U.S. national flags erected by students as they pay their respects to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. Photo by AFP/Mark Ranston

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