Photographs taken on that dreadful day 20 years ago can never be unseen (Picture: Getty/AP)
Twenty years on, images from September 11, 2001 continue to rank among the most powerful ever captured.
It was Osama Bin Laden’s intention to create a spectacle to shock the world when he sent 19 of his acolytes to the US to hijack four aeroplanes.
By the end of the day, the world knew the image of smoke rising above America heralded the start of a new era.
In less than a month, American tanks rolled into Afghanistan and the War on Terror began.
The images captured of the attack and the immediate aftermath continue to haunt and frighten.
As well as the horror, what they also captured for posterity are some of the most moving images of human resilience, bravery and compassion in existence.
If the crumbling towers are the most memorable images of September 11, the second are those pictures of firefighters, police officers and volunteers running head first into the chaos to save lives. Hundreds didn’t come back.
A total of 2,977 people died on September 11 in New York, the Pentagon attack and United Airlines 93 hijacking.
Thousands more were injured or live with ongoing health effects.
For all who lived through it, the 9/11 attacks continue to be a traumatic memory and these are the images that we will never forget.
Robert Clark’s image of United Airlines flight 175 seconds before ploughing into the South Tower is one of the most memorable in history (Picture: AP)
The second tower was struck at 9.03am on the morning of September 11 (Picture: AllSport)
By the time the second tower was hit, the North Tower was already smouldering from an impact 17 minutes earlier by hijacked American Airlines flight 11 (Picture: AP)
Huge fires began in both buildings and the blue New York sky was filled with black smoke (Picture: AP)
Minutes after the second strike, President George Bush was told ‘America is under attack’ during a school visit and a new era began (Picture: AP)
The first and most disturbing images to emerge from that day were of people gasping for air in smoke-filled floors above where the plane impacted (Picture: Reuters)
And then the unthinkable. Richard Drew’s image The Falling Man continues to horrify and captures the moment a person trapped on the upper floors was forced to choose between fire or falling. Several more were forced to make the same devastating choice. (Picture: AP)
New Yorkers stopped and stared at the unbelievable scenes that were unfolding in front of them, unaware that the chaos was far from over (Picture: AP)
56 minutes after being hit, the 1360ft South Tower collapsed (Picture: AFP)
Thousands of people who were still in the vicinity and oblivious to the impending collapse were sent fleeing (Picture: AP)
Photographers like Doug Kanter were among those who kept snapping as they fled the terrifying cloud which tore through the streets (Picture: AFP)
While it’s neighbouring building collapsed, the fire continued to rage in the North Tower (Picture: AP)
Firefighters were pouring into the area, many to their deaths, when the first tower collapsed (Picture: Getty)
At 9.37am more than 200 miles away, American Airlines flight 77 hit the Pentagon (Picture: Getty)
59 crew and passenger on board the plane and 125 people inside the Pentagon were killed (Picture: Getty)
Workers in the nerve centre of American military power were forced to get to safety on foot as The Pentagon burned behind them (Picture: Getty)
At 10.03am, United Airlines flight – which investigators believe was bound for the Capitol building – plummeted into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing 40 passengers and crew members (Picture: EPA)
Back in New York, the destruction reached its crescendo when the 110 storey North Tower came down At 10.28am (Picture: Getty)
Hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris was spread across Lower Manhattan in a matter of minutes (Picture: AFP)
Images of people dressed for a normal day in the office walking through the thick cloud continue to seem unreal (Picture: AP)
As the morning wore on, more and more walking wounded emerged from the chaos (Picture: AP)
Out of no where, a beautiful New York day was transformed by a blizzard of dust (Picture: AP)
Emergency workers lucky enough not to be in the towers when they collapsed were among those running from the cloud (Picture: Getty)
People who inhaled the toxic air have an increased risk of developing cancer to this day (Picture: AFP)
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to stream out of Manhattan on foot (Picture: AP)
People were desperate to get out of one of the busiest places on Earth (Picture: AP)
Some of the most iconic vistas on the planet were transformed into scenes unimaginable minutes earlier (Picture: AP)
New York’s famous skyscrapers disappeared behind the smoke and dust pouring from where the Twin Towers – once the tallest buildings in the world – had stood (Picture: AP)
412 of the dead were emergency workers who ran towards danger (Picture: Universal Images Group)
One of the survivors, Gerard McGibbon, of Engine 283 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, continued to work with thousands of others after losing friends and colleagues (Picture: Getty)
As the smoke began to clear, the twisted ruins of the World Trade Centre began to emerge (Picture: AP)
One of the most iconic buildings in the world had been reduced to a tortured heap of metal (Picture: AFP)
Firefighters began a desperate operation to search for survivors among the rubble (Picture: AP)
They spent days looking among the contorted steel frameworks of the once-towering skyscrapers (Picture: AP)
This man was pictured calling into the wreckage asking if anybody needed help (Picture: AFP)
More volunteers were called for – and more arrived by the hour (Picture: Getty)
Firefighters pouring into the disaster zone have become of one the world’s defining images of human resilience (Picture: EPA)
Construction workers showed up without being asked to help shift the debris (Picture: EPA)
A report this year found three quarters of first responders on the ground have developed a long-term illness linked to September 11(Picture: EPA)
It took years of political wrangling before a financial scheme to pay for the treatment of serving emergency service workers was finally agreed and fully-funded (Picture: AP)
Photographers captured the grief of people coming to the terms of what had happened to their city (Picture: AP)
And just like the rest of the world, New Yorkers could do nothing but watch and wonder (Picture: AP)
It only took a few minutes for people in the city to realise what they were witnessing was no accident (Picture: Getty)
President Bush arrived at the site the towers once stood on September 14 to meet with emergency workers (Picture: AP)
Standing in the rubble at Ground Zero, he promised Americans: ‘ I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.’ (Picture: AP)
People desperate to find loved ones posted flyers across Manhattan – 2,606 of the 2,977 people who died on September 11 lost their lives at the World Trade Centre (Picture: EPA)
Once the day was over, all that was left was a smouldering ruin and a gaping hole in the middle of Lower Manhattan (Picture: Reuters)
In an image reminiscent of soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima in 1945, firefighters Danny McWilliams, Billy Eissengrein and George Johnson hoisted the American flag atop the ruin on the afternoon of September 11 (Picture: AP)
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Author: Sean Seddon