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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

NYC Victims

Who was Killed in the 9/11/01 Attack on New York City

It is obvious that the number of people in New York City killed by the September 11th attack will never be known. Even ignoring the long-term death toll from exposure to toxins in the monster dust clouds and smoldering ruins, determining exactly who was killed by the immediate effects of the attack will forever elude historians. Despite the modern techniques for identifying bodies, the incredible vaporization of bodies at Ground Zero prevented the identification of over 1000 people. Also, an unknown number of undocumented workers were killed in the attack. The official effort to identify victims went on for 3-1/2 years, ending with an announcement by the medical examiner's office in late February of 2005 that the remaining victims would probably never be identified.

The lingering uncertainty about the exact death toll, and the lack of closure for the families of more than 1000 victims who would never receive so much as a bone fragment to bury, is one of many uniquely traumatic aspects of the attack. 1,616 death certificates were issued without the identification of a body at the request of victims' families. 1  

Estimates of the dead gradually declined in the years after the attack, eventually settling to a number around 2,750. On the day of the attack, news anchors speculated that the dead might number in the tens of thousands. Some of the estimates of the death toll in New York City at various times are as follows:

dead date source
2,617 1/25/02 death certificates at DOH Office of Vital Records
2,823 5/30/02 Wall Street Journal
2,819 9/01/02 Time
2,801 9/11/02 New York City
2,792 9/03/02 New York City
2,775 9/03/02 Associated Press
2,784 9/03/02 USA Today
2,749 2/23/05 ABC News
2   3   4  

USA TODAY documented 1,434 who died in the North Tower and 599 who died in the South Tower. Of the people who died in or around the buildings, 479 were public service personnel such as firefighters or police officers. 5   The Times estimated that 121 firefighters died in the North Tower when it collapsed.

A Cross-Section of the Global Community

Many countries were represented by the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center. The New York City Health Department released a report based on 2,617 death certificates filed for the victims through Jan. 25, 2002. The report covers more than 90 percent of the estimated deaths and includes the victims on the planes. By birthplace, the breakdown is as follows. 6  

country victims
United States 2106
United Kingdom 53
India 34
Dominican Republic 25
Jamaica 21
Japan 20
China 18
Colombia 18
Canada 16
Germany 16
Philippines 16
Trinidad and Tobago 15
Guyana 14
Ecuador 13
Italy 13
Ukraine 11
Korea 9
Poland 8
Russia 8
Haiti 7
Ireland 7
Pakistan 7
Taiwan 7
Cuba 6
Yugoslavia 6
Others 143


1. 9/11 in numbers, observer.guardian.co.uk, 8/18/02 [cached]
2. Closure from 9/11 elusive for many, USAToday, 9/3/01 [cached]
3. A Miracle's Cost, time.com, 9/1/02 [cached]
4. Forensic Identification of 9/11 Victims Ends, abcnews.com, 2/23/05 [cached]
5. For Many on Sept. 11, Survival Was No Accident, usatoday.com, 12/20/01 [cached]
6. , New York Times, 4/19/02

page last modified: 2007-01-17