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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 13:45 GMT
Pentagon rises from ashes
Pentagon rebuilding site
Reconstruction is ahead of schedule (AP)
The United States Department of Defence says it has rebuilt more than half of the section of the Pentagon destroyed in the 11 September attacks last year.

It is almost six months to the day since the attacks, in which hijackers flew airliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the US military headquarters in Washington DC.

While in New York the clean-up continues at Ground Zero, in Washington, construction crews are racing to complete repairs to the Pentagon before the anniversary of the attacks this September.

In Washington on Monday, Mr Bush will host more than 1,300 people on the South Lawn of the White House at a ceremony beginning at 0945 (1445 GMT) - the time at which the hijacked plane hit the Pentagon.

The Sphere in New York
The Sphere will be the first permanent memorial to the dead in New York

Relatives of those who died at the Pentagon and World Trade Center as well as on board United Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, will attend, alongside members of Congress.

Diplomats from 150 countries will be at the White House, along with top American military officials and dignitaries of the countries involved in the US campaign in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush is due to speak of America's ongoing sorrow over the terror attacks, and its response to them.

The Pentagon is to keep its commemoration low-key, and work on the $740m reconstruction project will not stop during the ceremony.

But 50 mayors, representing each of the US states, will leave a total of 184 floral tributes, representing each victim of the Pentagon attack.

Reconstruction effort

Builders were finishing pouring the concrete for the outer wall on the Pentagon's west side this week. On the lower floors, other workers put up the limestone facing that will soon cover all trace of the attack.

Amid the cranes, the central focus is a billboard-sized digital countdown clock, which will hit zero at 0938 on 11 September 2002, the exact anniversary of the attack against the Pentagon.

Work has gone so quickly at the Pentagon that commanders expect to have workers back at their desks in time for the first anniversary.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Americas
In pictures: Pentagon crash
06 Mar 02 | Americas
Tribute in light to New York victims
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