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Trade center death toll drops below 4,000

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The death toll from the destruction of the World Trade Center has dropped significantly, according to numbers released Wednesday by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He said authorities have come up with a new way of reporting the numbers.

A total of 3,682 people are either confirmed dead or missing and presumed dead, the mayor said.

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"This is as close to accurate as I think we're going to be able to get for some time," he said. Giuliani said 2,283 death certificates have been issued by the medical examiner or the court. Many of those death certificates are for people whose remains have not been recovered or identified.

"That leaves the missing persons on the list at 1,399," Giuliani said Tuesday. Authorities believe most of the missing are probably dead.

But the mayor cautioned that the number of missing could still decline if more people are accounted for, especially by other countries.

Estimates of the missing and dead in the days after the attacks had at one point exceeded 6,500, but by the end of October had dropped to around 4,600. The higher numbers were most likely the result of double-counting from different lists that had been compiled.

Giuliani said the higher numbers also were the result of other countries reporting more people missing than proved to be the case.

Getting a firm grip on the death toll has been complicated by the devastation at the site.

Giuliani said about $40 million has been distributed from the Twin Towers Fund, set up to help families who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. About $105 million has been raised for the fund.


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