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 faceless coward. Freedom will be defended."
Amid fears that the outrage could lead to 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, 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 targeted at the presidential retreat, Camp David, 85 miles away and may have been shot down by the US. The total air toll was 266.
Last night, more than 40,000 police and 14,000 firefighters were toiling 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. At least 250 firefighters and 200 police are missing. At one insurance firm, only 500 of 1,700 workers were accounted for. At least 2,500 people had hospital treatment.
All 170 hospitals in New York were mobilised and more than two million people ordered out of downtown Manhattan in the world's largest peacetime evacuation.
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, Saudi terror chief Osama bin Laden. He is based in Afghanistan.
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility. But bin Laden warned last month he would hit the US with a "very big one". One of his bombers is due to be sentenced near the WTC today.
Last night, the Afghan capital of Kabul was rocked by explosions. The Pentagon denied it was a US strike and blamed rebels.
The terror outrage was condemned the world over as nations went on red alert. Tony Blair said: "There are no adequate words of condemnation for those who carried out these attacks. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends.""
The US was placed on a war footing, sealing land borders and air corridors. The White House, Capitol, Treasury, State Department, Pentagon and UN were evacuated.
US Navy chiefs 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 suspicious planes. No flights were allowed into the country.
Foreign 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.
Transatlantic flights were cancelled or recalled. Israel closed its airspace and evacuated staff from embassies. But thousands of 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 1.58pm BST (8.58am New York time).
An American Airlines Boeing 767 Flight 11 - piloted on take-off by father of three John Ogonowski, 50 - flew low over Manhattan. …