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An Australian flag retrieved from the ruins of the World Trade Centre following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 is now on display in National Museum of Australia here in Canberra.

Soiled, crumpled and with minor tears but otherwise intact, the 120 x 178 cm flag was discovered in the basement of World Trade Centre Three, which was destroyed by falling debris from the collapse of Towers One and Two. The flag was used for ceremonial purposes in the World Trade Centre Three's 22-storey Marriott Hotel which was destroyed in the attack.

The New York Police Department presented the flag last month to Australia's Consul-General in New York, Ken Allen, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, requested that it be delivered to Australia for conservation and display.

Nine Australians were among the 2,729 people who perished in the New York terrorist attacks and an Australian was killed that tragic day in Washington DC. The Museum intends to list their names next to the flag when, after conservation treatment, it is permanently exhibited in the Museum's Symbols of Australia gallery.

"The flag is a sad symbol of a terrible event which shocked the world," said National Museum director Craddock Morton. "Although associated with such pain and suffering it will become an important object in the National Historical Collection and the Museum has the expertise to conserve the flag and display it appropriately."