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|Wednesday, September 12, 2001, updated at 02:29(GMT+8)|
Plane Crashes Into U.S. Defense Department BuildingIn an unprecedented attack on the U.S. capital, a plane crashed into the U.S. Defense Department building, setting off a huge explosion on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a separate fire forced evacuation of the White House.
"A plane hit the building," said David Cook, director of Administration and Management at the Pentagon, the world's biggest office building.
Gray smoke billowed from the five-sided building. The more than 20,000 civilians and military men and women who work in the building streamed into the surrounding car parks, driven by blue and white strobe alarm lights and wailing signs.
The plane that crashed near the Pentagon appeared to be a commercial airliner that was accelerating as it approached the massive building, one eyewitness said.
It was not immediately clear whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in the building at the time of the crash, which occurred near a helicopter landing pad at the southwestern side of the complex.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ordered all airplanes across the United States to remain on the ground in the first such national action ever.
Following two planes crashing into the World Trade Center in New York, federal buildings throughout the capital, including the Treasury Department and the Capitol, were evacuated and security was heightened around the city.
People raced from the Capitol when it was evacuated and workers downtown left their offices and headed out of the city.
The White House ordered an evacuation of the historic building and its complex.
Eyewitnesses said that fire trucks surrounded the White House as smoke billowed from outside the grounds on the south side of the president's official residence, eyewitnesses said.
President George W. Bush was in Florida and not at the White House at the time of the attack. He canceled a day of speeches devoted to his education plan and headed back to Washington.
Bush called the events an apparent "terrorist attack" and pledged the U.S. government will "hunt down" those held responsible.
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