The number of people listed as dead or missing in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York is falling sharply, as errors in the original count are being resolved.
The latest official count of the victims of the World Trade Center attack is said to be nearly 3,000 fewer than many had thought in the first weeks after the tragedy. The estimated toll had reached a high of 6,500.
The official tally now is under 3,900. City officials say it could fall further.
However, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says whatever the final count, the numbers are still devastating. So is the suffering, he says, of families torn apart by the tragedy. "A lot of people and a lot of families are in tremendous sorrow," the mayor said. "And I don't know if we'll ever know exactly what the number is. The number is some horrible, horrific number."
Mayor Giuliani says other than the possibility of duplicate names in the initial count, there is no reason to doubt the missing persons reports that the victims' loved ones have filed with the city.
More than 3,000 people are still unaccounted for. Over 600 bodies have been identified.
The final death toll, in any case, is likely to be higher than 2,400, the total number of Americans killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
The search operation at the site of the Twin Towers collapse in lower Manhattan will continue over the Thanksgiving Day holiday Thursday. Mayor Giuliani says the families of the missing deserve at least that much. "And I promised them that we would continue to work throughout to do the best that we can to recover the remains of their loved ones," Mr. Giliani said.
The clean-up of the site also is moving forward. About 46,000 truckloads of debris have been removed so far. The area is still smoldering, with contaminants from the decaying rubble still spewing into the surrounding air.