Attacks shake U.S., world
September 11, 2001: 11:03 p.m. ET

Financial markets rattled as investors seek safe havens for capital
By Staff Writer Chris Isidore
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The worst terrorist attack in U.S. history killed thousands, destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, damaged the Pentagon and shook financial markets and businesses around the world. And the shock waves continued overnight as Asian markets dropped dramatically while the human cost and economic damage were still being assessed.

The crash of four hijacked U.S. airliners led to the unprecedented grounding of all commercial flights in the United States through at least noon Wednesday and led to the closing of U.S. financial markets for a second day Wednesday.

Concern that the attack would shake consumer confidence and plunge an already shaky U.S. economy into recession sent stocks plunging Tuesday in Europe, led by financial and insurance issues. Stocks fell sharply elsewhere in the Americas as well. Major Asian markets, including Japan's Nikkei, plummeted when delayed trading started there about 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The second World Trade Center tower collapses after Tuesday's terrorist attack.
"There will be repercussions in Asia and I expect the markets to go into alert," said UCLA finance professor Bhagwan Chodhry.

The confidence of investors in the stability of U.S. markets is very important said Edward Leamer, a professor of business finance at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

"The U.S. had the image of being a safe harbor for investors," he said. "This may have a psychological impact on global investors who make take this moment in history to reassess their positions."

U.S. financial officials, including Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, expressed confidence in the strength of U.S. markets. The Federal Reserve issued a statement Tuesday that it is making money available to banks to insure liquidity in the system.

About 9 hours after the initial attack in New York a CNN correspondent in Kabul, Afghanistan reported seeing explosions and rocket launches in the middle of the night there. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the explosions were not a retaliatory strike by the United States, and other officials suggested the missile attacks were probably a continuation of the civil war there.

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graphicCNN footage of second World Trade Center tower collapse Tuesday.
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Officials with Afghanistan's government are suspected of supporting fugitive Saudi accused terrorist Osama bin Laden, whom U. S. officials believe may be involved in Tuesday's attacks, although Afghan officials made a statement condemning the attacks.

Businesses, schools and public offices around the nation closed in response to the attacks. Many U.S. and European financial services companies had offices in the destroyed World Trade Center, and the firms were scrambling Tuesday to determine the status of their employees and find locations for survivors to return to work.

Gold and oil prices spiked soon after the attacks while the dollar fell in overseas markets. European stock markets saw stock prices plunge.

Most major businesses throughout the nation's financial center closed early Tuesday, and limited access to and from the city made the prospects for normal operations Wednesday doubtful as well. The impact of the attack was also felt across the nation as many major businesses and factories, including the nation's major automakers, also closed as a precaution.

Click here for's coverage of the attacks

The nation's struggling airline industry appeared poised to take a huge hit in the coming weeks and months. Air travel has fallen sharply after previous high-profile terrorism, such as the crash of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, and also after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Air travel was already off sharply due to the slowing of the U.S. economy.

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graphicPresident Bush said that the U.S. would hunt down and punish those responsible
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No information on deaths from the attacks was immediately available, but the toll is certain to be high. The attacks hit just as the New York workday began, when the buildings were filling with people. The towers have about 50,000 employees and 100,000 visitors on a typical day, according to some estimates.

The collapse of the structures showered the streets below with tons of debris.

Still many employees of the center were able to escape relatively unscathed in the time between the crash and the collapse of the building.

Matthew Cornelous, an employee of the agency that runs the New York area airports, was at work on the 65th floor of the Trade Center when the crash occurred. He said he and many other people were able to get out of the building through the staircases.

"Every one maintained calm really well -- I was impressed with that," Cornelous told CNN. "We didn't understand the full severity of the situation, so people weren't panicking. We never had any fear of the building collapse.

"For some people it brought back memories of the bombing," he said, referring to the 1993 terrorist blast that emptied the towers but caused relatively few casualties. "People had been there before," he said.

The first jet to crash apparently was American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 en route from Boston to Los Angeles with 81 passengers, nine flight attendants and two pilots that American confirmed had been lost in a "tragic accident."

Next apparently was United Airlines flight 175, a Boeing 767 bound from Boston to Los Angeles with 56 passengers, two pilots, and seven flight attendants. It apparently was crashed into Tower Two, causing an explosion on the far side of the tower.

United Flight 93, a Boeing 757 flying from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, apparently crashed near Pittsburgh with 38 passengers, two pilots and five flight attendants aboard.

Finally, American also confirmed that its flight 77 from Washington Dulles Airport to Los Angeles had crashed. It apparently was used in the attack on the Pentagon. It carried 58 passengers, four flight attendants and two pilots.

Following that attack, the Pentagon burst into flames and a part of one side of the five-sided structure collapsed. Secondary explosions were reported in the aftermath of the attack and smoke billowed skyward toward the Potomac River and the city beyond.

President Bush was in Sarasota, Fla., at the time of the attack, and called the attacks a national tragedy. "Terrorism against our nation will not stand," Bush said.

The president immediately left Sarasota but due to security concerns he went to an undisclosed location rather than return to Washington. He issued a further statement saying all resources of the federal government will be put into catching those responsible, and helping victims of the attack. The government has taken security precautions and U.S. military forces around the world were on high alert status, he added.

"The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly attacks," he said. "The resolve of our great nation is being tested. Make no mistake, we will show the world we will pass the test." graphic

Wire services contributed to this report.