WTC Victim Toll Lowered by Four

Mon Aug 19, 6:21 PM ET
By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer

The medical examiner's office on Monday released the first comprehensive accounting of World Trade Center victims a list of 2,819 names that reduces the toll by four, the first change in the overall number in months.

The names will be read at the city's Sept. 11 ground zero anniversary ceremony by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, victims' family members and other dignitaries.

The list includes those whose remains have been identified, those presumed dead whose families have obtained a court-issued death certificate and about 90 people still classified as missing.

City officials in charge of the massive compilation effort cautioned they are not ready to call 2,819 the final number. The medical examiner's office and the police department still could adjust the tally and the police have not yet agreed to delete the four names from their list.

The casualty toll, estimated at more than 6,700 in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the twin towers, dropped sharply after the early accountings, then more slowly over the next six months before leveling off at 2,823 on April 22.

Names previously removed from the list have not been released. Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner, said she would not identify the latest four deletions.

"One victim was a woman listed by both her married name and maiden name, so that was a duplication," Borakove said. "The other three were people who were reported missing way back when, and nobody's ever been in contact, or come through to us. We've not been able to reach anybody, and nobody responded when we put out the DNA hotline, so they were removed."

Inspector Jeremiah Quinlan, who supervises the police department's missing person investigation, said the department was sticking with 2,823 names for now.

During the anniversary ceremony, the reading of the names will begin and end with moments of silence at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit and just before 10:30 a.m., when the second tower collapsed.

Victims' family members are submitting e-mail requests and will be chosen by lottery.

The original death toll was pared sharply by eliminating hundreds of duplications people reported missing by more than one source or under more than one name. Others turned up alive after initially being reported as missing.

In addition, Borakove said, there were at least 60 fraud cases individuals reported missing, by themselves or others, in an attempt to collect money from insurance or Sept. 11 support agencies.

While the figure of 2,823 victims remained unchanged since late April, the numbers within that total have constantly shifted as names were moved from the missing category to identified or legally declared dead.

The city's official count of victims includes passengers and crew on the doomed jetliners, but not the five hijackers aboard each plane, Borakove said.

"We don't have any DNA on them," she said. "And where would we get it? I don't think anybody's going to give us that."

The revised total of 2,819 includes 1,364 victims positively identified by forensic means, such as fingerprints, dental records and DNA. In addition, 1,455 have been formally declared dead despite a lack of remains.

The city decided soon after Sept. 11 to issue death certificates at the request of relatives without physical remains.



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