SEPT 11, 2001: WAR ON THE WORLD: TOTAL WAR; 10,000 Feared Dead in Day of Terror Hijackers Crash Jets into Trade Center Pentagon Hit Too, 4th Plane Downed Bush Vows: We'll Hunt Down Cowards
Byline: ANDY LINES, US Editor, in New York
SHATTERED America last night vowed "total war" against the monsters behind the worst terror attack in history which may have killed more than 10,000 people.
As the US went on the highest military alert, President Bush declared: "Make no mistake, the US will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. Freedom was attacked this morning by a faithless coward. Freedom will be defended.''
Amid fears that the outrage could lead to a global conflict one of the president's closest allies, Republican Senator Richard Shelby, said: "This is total war, a real war. This is a wake-up call for America."
In a day of unprecedented horror and savagery terrorists hijacked two airliners and flew them into the twin 1,360ft towers of the World Trade Center in New York, which collapsed in a mountain of dust and rubble. Each 110-storey block held 25,000 people.
The madmen hijacked another airliner which they speared into the Pentagon military HQ at Washington which was set ablaze.
A fourth hijacked jet crashed 80 miles south of Pittsburgh. It is believed it was being targeted at the Presidential retreat Camp David 85 miles away. The total air toll was 266.
Yesterday's attacks - so sophisticated they could have taken years to prepare - are believed to have been masterminded by the world's most wanted man, fanatical Saudi terror chief Osama bin Laden.
He warned three weeks ago that he would hit the US with a "very big one". One of his confederates is due to be sentenced at a court near the WTC today.
The attacks were condemned the world over. The Queen spoke of her "disbelief". Tony Blair put all of Britain's security forces on alert.
He said: "There are no adequate words of condemnation for those who carried out these attacks. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends.""
As he spoke more than 40,000 police and 14,000 firefighters toiled frantically in the rubble of the WTC to free untold numbers.
City mayor Rudolf Giuliani said: "I fear a horrendous number of lives have been lost."
Sources estimated more than 10,000 could have died. Last night it was confirmed 2,500 people had received hospital treatment. At least 150 of them were in critical condition.
All 170 hospitals in New York were mobilised and more two million people were ordered out of downtown Manhattan in the world's largest peacetime evacuation.
Meanwhile, the US went on war alert sealing its land borders and air corridors. The White House, Capitol, Treasury, State Department, Pentagon and UN buildings were evacuated.
The US Navy sent aircraft carriers and guided missile destroyers to New York and Washington. Commanding Admiral Robert J. Natter said: "We haven't been attacked like this since Pearl Harbour."
All US airports were shut and all flights grounded apart from 16 warjets which patrolled the skies with instructions to shoot down any aircraft acting suspiciously. No flights were allowed into the country.
Embassies shut and hundreds of installations from the NASA space centre to Disney theme parks were closed.
As the world reeled in shock and cold fear, nations put their own military on alert. Israel closed its airspace. But Palestinians cheered and danced for joy on the streets of the West Bank.
What German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called a "declaration of war against the civilised world" was launched at 1.47pm (8.47am New York time).
Above New York an American Airlines Boeing 767 Flight 11 - hijacked on its way from Boston to Los Angeles with 92 passengers and crew - flew low over Manhattan.
Then it suddenly veered to the right and sliced into the WTC's Tower One where thousands had just started work. Fire engulfed the building's upper 10 storeys, trapping or killing hundreds, and flaming debris rained down on to the crowded streets below. …