A look back at how the news of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks reached Australian audiences.
By
SBS

6 Sep 2011 - 1:42 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 9:20 AM

It was late at night in Australia when two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York, on the date that's become ingrained in history.

The following morning -- September 12th in Australia -- the SBS newsroom was in overdrive, with journalists and producers struggling to stay on top of the mass of reports, footage and commentary coming out of the US.

Until that day the Australian news agenda had been dominated by the verdict on the Tampa incident and the collapse of regional airline Ansett.

At midday on September 12 newsreader Lee Lin Chin went on air in a special broadcast to bring the history-making story to SBS audiences.

Here are the first items from that bulletin:

There was still no estimate of how many people had been killed, but attention turned to who was responsible for the attacks.

Then-president George W. Bush didn't address Americans for at least 90 minutes as Air Force One tried to decide where he would be safest. Then, more shaken than he'd ever been seen, he took to the screen to offer these words to his stunned and terrified citizens.

By coincidence, Australia's then prime minister John Howard was on a visit to Washington. He too tried to offer some words of sympathy and solidarity to his hosts. He then boarded the first flight he could take back to Australia when American airspace reopened to limited traffic.

Possibly as hoped by those responsible for the attack, the next thing to tumble was world markets. There were fears of a global economic meltdown, as investors rushed to buy gold amid uncertainty about the future of the world's most powerful economy.

September the 13th brought a clearer picture of the previously unimaginable devastation. What remained of the World Trade Centre's steel supports rose jaggedly above a gigantic pile of debris, as dazed rescuers did all they could to find those still trapped. The first bodies were retrieved.

SBS political correspondent Dennis Grant had been in Washington covering Howard's trip. Suddenly he found himself reporting as history was made. Three days after the strike, he described the sentiment in the US, where support was growing for a counter-attack. People were beginning to refer to the site of the World Trade Centre as 'Ground Zero' - the term coined for Hiroshima when the US dropped an atomic bomb on it in 1945.

The firemen killed when the second building collapsed were remembered on the same day.

The hunt for Bin Laden was on, and clues as to his whereabouts began to emerge.

On Saturday, September the 15th, travel resumed and airports around the world began to completely overhaul their security protocols.

On Sunday, September the 16th, President Bush declared war in a historic speech.

And the task of locating Osama Bin Laden - that wouldn't be completed for almost another decade - was begun.

At the same time, the first funerals were held for the victims in the US.

Australians joined in the mourning, remembering the 11 Aussies killed in the attacks.

Bush spent the next days on the phone to 20 world leaders, garnering support for a war on terror and help hunting down Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive'. Those leaders then congregated in Washington, to plan a response to what they called 'a new kind of global terrorism'.