9/11 attack: Reflecting on the day terror hit

It is a day anyone who lived through will never forget.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 8:47 am
Updated Saturday, 11th September 2021, 8:50 am

Twenty years ago today, an event was starting to unfold across the Atlantic that would be felt across the entire world.

A co-ordinated set of attacks by the terrorist group al-Qaeda saw four commercial airliners hijacked by 19 members of the militant Islamist organisation.

Following the first plane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8.46am (1.46pm GMT) the world watched as horrific footage and images were shown throughout the following hours, days and weeks.

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Planes hit the World Trade Centre in New York

The attacks on the United States resulted in 2,977 fatalities – the single-deadliest terror attack in history – causing international outrage and leading to then US President George W. Bush’s war on terror.

Ceremonies at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, the Pentagon and Stonycreek, Pennsylvania – the site of the attacks – are set to take place today.

Because of how devastating the events were, many people can remember where they were when they heard about the attacks and recollect their memories of the day.

Tim Gavell was a reporter with the Post on that fateful day.

He recalled: “The newsroom of the Lancashire Post had 24 hour news rolling on the TV screens dotted about the office.

“It was a bright, calm autumn day outside, and many of us were looking forward to getting some fresh air in a late lunchtime walk.

“When the first reports of an aircraft hitting one of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York it piqued our interest, with most thinking it would be a light aircraft, possibly a tourist flight gone wrong. When the first pictures came through of the fire on the upper floors of the North Tower, there was a sudden realisation that this might be serious.

“What about those trapped above? Will it be like Towering Inferno with rope rescues and a helicopter?

“The increasingly confused reports coming out of America began to seem like there was something bigger about the incident and many of us gathered on and off around the TVs to watch. Seventeen minutes later we saw the moment that changed our world.

“An airliner arced into picture and flew straight into the South Tower with a splash of flame and smoke. The normally boisterous newsroom was stunned into silence.

“We knew it was the biggest story since the Second World War. The rest of the day flew by in a blur of writing, phoning, contacting anyone we knew who was in the US at the time.

“Once the newspapers were put to bed, only then could we properly reflect on what had happened.