Timeline: On 9/11, 102 minutes that changed America

A file picture dated Sept 10, 2003 shows a giant American flag being reflected in the glass of the Century 21 Building which sits opposite of Ground Zero, during preparations for the second anniversary in New York, US.
A file picture dated Sept 10, 2003 shows a giant American flag being reflected in the glass of the Century 21 Building which sits opposite of Ground Zero, during preparations for the second anniversary in New York, US.PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (AFP) - Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

The Al-Qaeda plane hijackings of September 11, 2001 - the first foreign attack on the US 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 US history:

- 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.

- 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.

- Then US 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.

- 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.

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

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

- A United Airlines Boeing 757 travelling 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.

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