Terrorist Attacks Strike New York, Washington

Two airplanes this morning crashed into each of the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City. Both of the two 110-story towers have collapsed.

The second tower crashed to the ground this morning a half hour after the first, which fell shortly after 10 a.m. Eyewitnesses say they saw bodies falling from the structure as well as people jumping from it.

As many as 50,000 people work in the World Trade Center. There has been no word yet on the number of fatalities there.

Both the White House and the Capitol have been evacuated while authorities attempt to ascertain what is going on. All museums and monuments in the city have been closed.

An aircraft has also reportedly crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. That building, home to many armed forces personnel, is also being evacuated, news agencies are reporting.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports, the Federal Aviation Administration has shut down all aircraft takeoffs nationwide. The agency has now ordered all aircraft flying in the U.S. to land at the nearest airport.

Among other evacuations reported this morning are the State, Treasury and Justice Department buildings.

Speaking around 9:30 am Eastern time, President Bush called the World Trade Center crashes “an apparent terrorist attack” and ordered a full-scale investigation into the incident.

The president spoke while on a trip to Florida, cut short so he could return to Washington.

“I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and the families and to conduct a full scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act,” the president said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, on a trip to Peru and expected to fly to Colombia today, condemned the attacks and said he was returning to Washington.

“A great tragedy has struck our country,” he said. “It will not affect the nature of our society. We will find out who is responsible and bring them to justice.”