The number of people who died from illnesses related to the September 11 attacks appears to exceed those who lost their lives in the attacks, according to a report by the victims’ compensation fund released on Tuesday.
More than 67,000 compensation claims have been filed with this fund since it opened in 2011 to people who were close to sites attacked by Al Qaeda jihadists 20 years ago and who have since developed illnesses.
Most are people who lived or worked near the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, whose collapse released toxic gases that blanketed the area for weeks.
Almost half of the cases refer to cancer patients and 3,900 were presented on behalf of people who have died.
“This means that the number of people whose deaths appear to have been caused by illnesses related to the Sept. 11 attacks now exceeds the number of people who died on Sept. 11,” said Rupa Bhattacharyya, the fund’s director.
On that historic day, nearly 3,000 people died after four planes were hijacked, two of them crashing into Manhattan skyscrapers, one in the Pentagon and one in a wooded area of Pennsylvania after a passenger counterattack.
Shortly thereafter, a compensation fund was created for the families of the disappeared and survivors.
In 2011, a law reactivated the fund and expanded it following the outbreak of cancers, especially among firefighters and people who cleared rubble in New York. In 2019, its operation was extended to 2090.
Applications continue to come in en masse, with about 900 new cases registered each month in 2021, according to Bhattacharyya, who says it is still difficult to calculate the total number of victims.
“The tragedy of 9/11 continues,” she said. To date, the fund has responded to more than 41,000 legitimate claims, 2,132 of them from dead people, and has paid a total of nearly $9 billion in damages.
Next Saturday, President Joe Biden will visit the three places attacked to “honor and remember the lives lost” in the attacks that shook the United States and the world.