President Bush says thousands of lives have been suddenly ended by despicable terrorist attacks into the World Trade Center buildings in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. But Mr. Bush says the steel of American resolve has not been shattered and the search is underway for those responsible.
Speaking at the White House Tuesday night, President Bush said the United States will make no distinction in the search for culprits between the terrorists and those who harbor them.
The number of casualties in Tuesday's attacks remains unclear, but the final tally of dead and injured is expected to number in the many thousands.
The tragic events began Tuesday morning when two hijacked airliners crashed, about 20 minutes apart, into the two twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Within an hour, a third commercial airliner crashed into the U.S. Defense Department headquarters here in Washington. One side of the five-sided Pentagon structure was set ablaze and collapsed. One hundred people were reported killed or injured in the Pentagon attack.
The burning structures of the World Trade Center later collapsed into the streets of Manhattan - and late Tuesday a third building at the World Trade Center complex collapsed. It was apparently damaged by the collapse of the first two structures.
A fourth hijacked airliner crashed in Pennsylvania Tuesday morning. All those aboard the four downed planes - or an estimated 266 people - are believed dead.
The four planes that crashed were two flights from American Airlines and two flights from United Airlines. They were on route from the east coast of the United States to the west coast, full of fuel.
President Bush was in Florida at the time of the attacks. He initially went to a U.S. air force base in Nebraska to speak via teleconference with U.S. security advisors, before returning to Washington.
Donald Rumsfeld A news conference was also held late Tuesday at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to say how many people were killed in the Pentagon attack. Speaking next to him, Virginia Senator John Warner said America had experienced its most tragic hours on Tuesday, but that Americans were ready to fight back.
John Ashcroft In a separate news conference at the White House, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called Tuesday's attacks a "terrible tragedy." He vowed justice would be done.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate came together on the steps of the Capitol late Tuesday to also hold a news conference.
Vice President Cheney and his wife who were in Washington Tuesday as was First Lady Laura Bush were moved to secure locations after the attacks, while congressional leaders were evacuated from the Capitol Building to safety.
Meanwhile, U.S. military forces worldwide are on their highest state of alert.
Among other security precautions that are being taken, all U.S. air traffic has been suspended until at least midday Wednesday.
In Washington, the city's mayor ordered a state of emergency and federal workers were told to go home after the attacks. A state of emergency was also declared in the nearby U.S. states of Virginia and Maryland.
Professional baseball games were canceled throughout the United States on Tuesday.