Official count of dead and missing in World Trade Center cut to 3,900

War On Terrorism


NEW YORK - The official count of the dead and missing in the attack on the World Trade Center has fallen sharply in the past few weeks to below 3,900, nearly 3,000 fewer than the number city officials feared had perished in the first weeks after the towers fell.

City officials said yesterday that the tally, which dropped by at least 200 over last weekend alone, could continue to fall, perhaps to 3,000, as duplication and errors on their list are resolved. Unofficial compilations by news organizations, using information from companies, the airlines and other sources, so far have reached no higher than 2,700 to 2,950.

The culling of the official list of those killed in the twin towers and on the hijacked airplanes that destroyed them has been proceeding quietly since late September, when it reached its high of about 6,500.

But this has taken place largely out of public view, with everyone from world leaders to military officials to journalists continuing to believe at least 5,000 people died in the attacks on the towers and the Pentagon and on the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.

But using the figure released yesterday, the death toll for all three attacks could not be higher than 4,132. It could fall to 3,235.

"Thank God so many of these people are alive and well," said Charles V. Campisi, the chief of the New York Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau, which is supervising the count.

City officials would not estimate when they expect to be finished refining the list of missing and dead.

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