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Major US Landmarks Attacked by Terrorists

WASHINGTON (voa) The United States is facing its gravest crisis in decades, following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks against major U.S. landmarks. President Bush is vowing to hunt down and punish those responsible for what he called “these cowardly acts.”

The tragic string of events began Tuesday morning when a hijacked airliner crashed into one of the two World Trade Center buildings in New York City. Minutes later, another hijacked plane plowed into the second World Trade Center building. Both 110-story buildings collapsed below into the streets of Manhattan.

Within an hour, a third commercial airliner crashed into the Pentagon here in Washington – the headquarters of the U.S. armed forces. A portion of the building collapsed and was on fire. Military aircraft are patrolling the airspace above Washington.

United Airlines has confirmed two of its planes crashed – one near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is not known if those crashes were related to the attacks at the Pentagon and in New York.

The loss of life is expected to be catastrophic, but no specific casualty figures were immediately available because of all the chaos. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he does not even want to speculate about how many casualties there are.

Federal government buildings in Washington have been evacuated and people have fled the downtown part of the city in droves. Secretary of State Powell was returning home early from a trip to Peru.

U.S. aviation authorities grounded all airplane takeoffs, and diverted all trans-Atlantic flights to Canada. Train service between Washington and Boston has been suspended, and the U.S. border with Mexico was closed.

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