(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON ? In an unparalleled assault, airplanes struck targets in New York and Washington, D.C. Tuesday, causing widespread damage and panic as explosions leveled New York?s World Trade Center towers and part of the Pentagon, near Washington.

Fifteen thousand people were estimated to be inside the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. Two hundred sixty-six people died on the four hijacked jets and officials estimated that 200 more lost their lives at the Pentagon.

Two explosions rocked the 110-story twin towers Tuesday starting at 8:45 a.m. when a hijacked American Airlines flight 11 from Boston en route to Los Angeles crashed into the south tower.

As smoke funneled from the first building, a second plane, United Airlines flight 175 headed from Boston to Los Angeles crashed into the north tower at approximately 9:03 a.m., setting it ablaze.

After burning for about an hour, the south tower collapsed at 10:05 a.m. followed by the north tower 30 minutes later, bringing down 200,000 tons of steel and 43,600 windows.

As New York scrambled to help the injured and secure the city, American Airlines flight 77 en route to Los Angeles from Washington Dulles airport crashed into the home of the Department of Defense at the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m., causing part of the structure to collapse.

A fourth plane, United flight 93 headed to San Francisco after taking off from Newark, N.J., crashed near Pittsburgh in Somerset, PA.

Authorities early Thursday identified a team of about 50 attackers who supported and carried out the plot. Approximately 40 have been accounted for, including those killed in the suicide attacks, but 10 remain at large.

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