In this aerial photograph taken by the New York City Police Department and provided by ABC News, smoke and ash engulf THE pain of remembering has been described as a quake that rips the soul asunder, and never before seen aerial images of the September 11 attacks in New York will leave no soul unscathed.

For many, whose memory of the terrorist attacks had begun to dim since 2001, the chilling horror of what happened on that awful day has been reprised with these images.

The shots from the air are both fearful and surreal.

The scale of the destruction so great, for a moment the observer could easily forget that within the maelstrom captured by these images more than 2,600 innocent people perished.

The pictures of the devastation, viewed from above the city, give an added heartbreaking dimension to one of the most awful moments in recent history.

The newly released aerial photos focus on the World Trade Center attack in which hijackers crashed two airliners into the iconic buildings.

The consequent collapse of the Twin Towers, shown from dramatic new angles, is again blood chilling.

Both buildings collapsed within two hours of being hit by the jets, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others.

The shots were obtained by ABC News through a Freedom of Information Act request with the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.

As part of its investigation into the terrorist attack, the institute had gathered the images as evidence.

ABC said it was given 2,779 pictures on nine CDs. Many of the photos, taken from police helicopters, have never been seen before.

Twelve of the photos have been posted on ABC’s website.

One photo shows a close-up of the upper floors of the burning towers.

Others show the towers’ dramatic collapse in a thick plume of smoke and debris and sweeping views of billowing smoke clouds.


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