Online news sites jammed on Tuesday as people turned to the internet for the latest information on the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Demand became so great that search engine Google had to direct news-hungry surfers to TV and radio. However,, the web’s most popular news site, managed to run without problems, as graphics were removed from the site to speed up download times.

In the UK, the jump in news-seeking traffic made providers’ websites more popular than at any previous time, according to online performance measurement firm Hitwise.

The BBC site rose in the popularity stakes from eighteenth to number 8, CNN jumped from 302 into the top twenty, while ABC News leapt from 258 to 13, registering the biggest increase in traffic for any UK site.

“Because the story broke when so many people in the US and the UK were at work, the internet became the main source for the information – it was a story that was truly broken on the internet,” commented Bryan Porter, an editor at online weekly New Media Zero.

“What was interesting to note, however, was that monitoring company Keynote Systems reported a 10% decrease in worldwide network traffic immediately after the attack – which is quite phenomenal. The way I read that is that you can imagine all the people within hearing and seeing distance of the World Trade Center would rush away from their desks and actually go and see what's happening for themselves.”

News sources: (USA); BBC Online Business News (UK)