NEW YORK – City officials are close to determining a final count of the people who were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, with a total of less than half of original estimates, police said.
The city's count has stood at 2,893 since Monday, decreasing from near 7,000 in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Officials eliminated mistakes and duplicated entries in missing-person reports, and the tally could still be reduced further, said police department Chief Charles Campisi, who heads the effort.
"We're very, very close," Campisi told The Associated Press Wednesday. "I would say we're 99 percent there."
Included within that total are 309 missing, for whom no remains have been identified and no death certificates issued. In an additional 1,958 cases, no remains have been identified but authorities have issued death certificates.
Campisi said the number of missing will drop as the medical examiner's office identifies the more than 12,000 body parts collected among the ruins of the collapsed towers. That process will not affect the total, because as the number of missing drops, the number of confirmed dead will increase.
The official city count peaked at 6,729 on Sept. 24, but it dropped by more than 1,000 six days later when then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that cross-checks of names had eliminated duplications.
Chasing the errors has been "labor intensive," Campisi said.
"It was a very monumental task," he said. "We worked diligently on it, knowing that this would be a permanent part of history."
The errors were due in part to the flooding of the police database with missing-person reports from multiple sources, including family members, the American Red Cross, airlines, employers and law enforcement agencies.
Campisi said some victims may remain missing.
"Under a perfect system, that 309 would disappear and become a zero," Campisi said. "But with the explosion and intense heat and crushing of the buildings, there will be people unaccounted for."
An Associated Press tally of people confirmed dead and those reported dead or missing in the trade center attack stood at 2,794 on Thursday. That number includes the people aboard the two jets that crashed into the towers. Counting the 184 deaths at the Pentagon and 40 in Pennsylvania, the AP count totals 3,018. The AP count does not include the 19 hijackers on the four planes.
The AP list is based on information collected from the Defense Department, medical examiners, the courts, AP foreign bureaus, companies, families, member newspapers, funeral homes and places of worship.