WARNING: POTENTIALLY DISTRESSING IMAGES AND VIDEO

World Trade Center: Exactly 17 years ago today, on 11 September 2001, the world as we knew it changed forever. Two aeroplanes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Centre towers in Manhattan, New York.

Many of us will remember where they were when they heard the news – leaving work, school or college, maybe – and you will probably remember watching the news when you got home and seeing reports of the second plane hitting the World Trade Centre tower.

But what not many people had seen was the first plane hitting the building – of which there is only one piece of video footage.

The video seems to be from ‘camera practice’ within the fire service. You can hear on the voice over: “Every time the battalion goes, I go, you know I just need some practice, I shoot and I don’t stop.”

You can see firefighters checking what seem to be gas pipes underground using instruments – something that was ‘routine and simple’.

Then the workers hear a plane coming over, and the footage shows the staff looking towards the sky, shocked by the proximity of the sound above.

World Trade Center
Credit: YouTube/Real 911questions

It’s a clear and sunny day, meaning virtually everything is plain to see. The camera pans around as the plane makes contact with the tower and the fear of everyone close by is immediately audible, as smoke and flames engulf the top of the building.

That was the moment United Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, en route to Los Angeles, hit floors 93 to 99 of the North Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds within the building.

World Trade Center
Credit: YouTube/Real 911questions

Another plane, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the South Tower less than 20 minutes later, crashing into floors 75 to 85.

Two further planes were hijacked, with one crashing into the Pentagon building, and another failing to reach its target, thanks to the efforts of the brave people on board.

Around 3,000 people were killed – many instantly. The number of those injured was even greater, and the two towers went on to collapse in a terrifying ball of fire, dust and metal.

World Trade Center
Credit: PA

While 9/11 may not have been the first terrorist incident to shock the world, it was certainly the one that captured the world’s attention unlike any other.

For many people, the self-preservation instinct is to run away from danger in these situations. However, today should be a day to remember those who ran bravely towards such incidents in defence or in aid of others – particularly the emergency services.

The attacks on 9/11 led to the deaths of 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, and eight medics. Since then, hundreds more have died of illnesses picked up during the rescue operation and the clean-up.

Even for those who survived, the trauma and mental anguish can’t be undone.