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The Nation

40 Deleted From 9/11 Death Toll

October 30, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The World Trade Center death toll dropped to 2,752 on Wednesday after 40 names were removed from the list because investigators could not prove those people died or, in some cases, whether they ever existed.

For two years, the number of people killed has not been precisely known. The toll had stood at 2,792 since December of last year.

"This is close to what we believe were there," said Police Inspector Jeremiah Quinlan. "We put a lot of work into it, when you look at how many were originally reported to what it is now."

Hours after the 2001 attack, a stunned Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said the number of casualties would be "more than any of us can bear." The list peaked at 6,886 two weeks after the attack, inflated by thousands of missing-person reports from relatives and friends around the world who had not heard from loved ones.

Since then, a team of investigators has weeded out errors, duplicated names and cases of outright fraud.

Charles Strozier, a psychoanalyst and history professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said a solid number was important for the history books, for memorials and for a sense of finality.

"Numbers are not an insignificant part of the way we memorialize disasters," Strozier said. "You have to know who you're remembering."

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