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In numbers: the September 11 terrorist attacks

2996 people died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Here, in numbers, is the story of the actions that took place that day.

A screen grab from WNYW, a local Fox affiliate channel, which was the first TV station to report news of the attack on the WTC's North Tower.
A screen grab from WNYW, a local Fox affiliate channel, which was the first TV station to report news of the attack on the WTC's North Tower.

IN SOME WAYS it may seem crude – almost callous – to try and distil the gruesome events that shaped an entire decade of international diplomacy and war into a single selection of numbers.

In others, though, it is perhaps a way of trying to make sense of the carnage of Tuesday 11 September 2001 – an attempt at tackling the titanic emotional and political legacy left behind by the attacks and their aftermath.

It is in the latter spirit that we present this selection of statistics – largely temporal – on the September 11 attacks.

4 – The time, in years, taken to build the World Trade Centre’s twin towers.

19 – The number of hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; in 2004, Osama bin Laden claimed direct responsibility for their actions.

47 - The time, in minutes, between the takeoff of American Airlines flight 11 and the time of its impact in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre (impact time 8:46am ET).

33 – The time, in minutes, between Flight 11′s last routine check-in with air traffic control and the time of impact.

466 – The estimated speed, in miles per hour, at which Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower between floors 93 and 99. Those in the floors above the impact are stranded: the main stairwell, running down the centre spine of the building, is destroyed.

102 – The time, in seconds, between the impact of Flight 11 in the North Tower and the first news broadcast describing the attack: one reporter for the local TV station WNYW, a Fox affiliate, was on the street broadcasting coverage of the Democratic primary for the city’s Mayoral election, was able to broadcast live from the scene, though his cameraman did not catch a visual image of the first impact.

48 – The time, in minutes, between the takeoff of United Airlines flight 175 from Boston Logan airport until the time of its impact into the South Tower of the WTC (impact time 9:03am ET).

5 – The time, in minutes, between the staff of Flight 175 reporting a visual sighting of the hijacked Flight 11, and the time Flight 175 itself was estimated to have been hijacked.

590 – The speed, in miles per hour, at which Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower between floors 77 and 85. Unlike the attack on the North Tower, which was not broadcast live (and of which footage did not emerge for some time), the impact on the South Tower was witnessed live by millions around the globe who were watching TV coverage of the first impact.

23 – The time, in minutes, between the impact on the South Tower and the first formal report – by the Associated Press, carried by CNN – that the plane crashes were the result of a suspected terrorist attack.

114 – The time, in seconds, between the impact on the South Tower and the time that President George W Bush, visiting a school in Florida, is informed of the second impact. His Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, leans to him and whispers:

A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.

77 – The time, in minutes, between American Airlines flight 77 taking off from Washington Dulles airport and its impact into the Western side of the Pentagon (impact time 9:37am ET). The affected side of the building is largely comprised of newly-renovated buildings, minimising the loss of human life on the ground, though 125 Pentagon staff are killed as well as the 64 people on board the plane.

81 – The time, in minutes, between United Airlines flight 93 taking off from Newark airport and its impact in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania (impact time 10:03am).

3362 – The time, in seconds, between the impact of Flight 175 in the South Tower and the time it began to collapse. (This is the equivalent of 56 minutes and 2 seconds.) The destruction is witnessed live on TV by hundreds of millions, who are able to discern exactly what is happening: some onlookers on the ground, confused by the scale of the dust and rubble, mistakenly believe that a secondary explosion has occurred at the tower. It is only when the dust dissipates that they realise the 110-storey building has been destroyed and simply no longer exists.

6105 – The time, in seconds, between the impact of Flight 11 on the North Tower and the beginning of its collapse. (This is equivalent to 101 minutes and 45 seconds.) The collapse of the second tower, at 10:28am ET, comes 29 minutes after the collapse of its Southern twin.

85 – The time, in minutes, between the collapse of the North Tower (the second one to fall) and the confirmation by United Airlines that two of its craft had been hijacked and lost.

412 – The time, in minutes, between the collapse of the North Tower and the collapse of 7 World Trade Centre (colloquially the ‘Salomon Brothers Building’), which falls after sustaining heavy damage from debris emitted by the collapse of the Twin Towers.

608 – The time, in minutes, between the first crash into the North Tower and the arrival of President Bush back at the White House, a few minutes before 7pm ET. Bush had been carried in airspace for much of the day, as security forces strived to keep him from harm’s way.

2,996 – The total number of casualties on 9/11, including the 19 hijackers. They include:

  • 2,606 people – including civilians and emergency service workers – killed at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York;
  • 87 passengers on board American Airlines flight 11, which struck the WTC’s North Tower at 8:46am;
  • 60 passengers on board United Airlines flight 175, which struck the South Tower 17 minutes later;
  • 411 emergency workers, including 343 firemen and 60 police officers who had entered the WTC buildings after they had been struck – and one who was killed on a sidewalk, struck by a WTC worker jumping to his death;
  • 59 passengers on American Airlines flight 77, which struck the Pentagon;
  • 125 people who were inside the Pentagon at the time;
  • 40 passengers on board United Airlines flight 93, which crashed at Shanksville in Pennsylvania.
  • The total does not include those who died from secondary causes arising from the attacks, such as pulmonary problems or suicide.

70 – The number of countries – including Ireland – whose citizens were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

26 – The number of days between the 9/11 attacks and the first United States-led military action in Afghanistan on October 7, 2011.

3,520 – The number of days between the September 11 terrorist attacks and the death of Osama bin Laden.

1,185 – The number of people who died on September 11 whose bodies have yet to be recovered or identified.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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