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Pentagon Struck, White House, Capitol Evacuated

An aircraft this morning crashed into one side of the Pentagon during the busy morning hours. The plane slammed into a part of the building used for offices of the Marine Corps Aviation as well as some Army and Navy offices.

The crash occurred near a helicopter landing pad on the southwestern side of the complex. A witness said what appeared to be a commercial airliner seemed to accelerate as it approached the building.

More than 20,000 military and civilian personnel work in the Pentagon. Spokesmen told local reporters there were people killed in the attack, but did not specify how many.

After being briefed by Pentagon officials, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) told reporters there “appear to be about 100 casualties” in the Pentagon building.

By this afternoon, 10 people from the Pentagon were taken to nearby Inova Alexandria Hospital in good to fair condition and 26 went to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. Hopsitals in Washington had taken 40 patients related to the attack, seven in critical condition, the Associated Press reports.

A Pentagon spokesman said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the department leadership were not harmed in the attack.

Sixty-four people were on board the plane, which was an American Airlines flight from Dulles Airport bound for Los Angeles.

Located in Arlington, Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington, the Pentagon is the headquarters of the U.S. military.

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

Foreign embassies in Washington have also shut down, as have international financial organizations located in the city.

All of the nation’s airports have been closed and all air traffic ordered to land at the nearest airport.

All federal buildings were evacuated this morning and other businesses were shut down in Washington.

Speaking from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush said the the United States “will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

“We have taken all appropriate security precautions to protect the American people. Our military at home and around the world is on high-alert status and we have taken the necessary security precautions to continue the functions of your government,” the president said.

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