NEW YORK -- Three names have been removed from the list of those killed in the World Trade Center attack, bringing the death toll to 2,749, which could stand as the final count, the medical examiner's office said Friday. The official list of those missing for the first time now matches the number of death certificates the city has issued for attack victims, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner.
"We believe this is the final number," she said.
Borakove said the three names were removed this week after officials could not confirm that they were killed in the trade center attack.
Two weeks after the attack, the number of missing-person reports peaked at 6,886 amid confusion and calls from frantic relatives. The number stood at 2,792 from December 2002 until October, when 40 unsolved cases were removed from the list.
The exact number, in certain respects, is unimportant, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
"It has done nothing to diminish the loss of our loved ones whether they be firefighters, police officers and emergency workers or people who showed up to work one morning and lost their lives in one of the most barbaric attacks in human history," he said.
Charles B. Strozier, director of the Center on Terrorism and Public Safety at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said a conclusive tally was important historically.
"You have to put it in historic context to appreciate the significance of the particular number," Strozier said.
The three names removed this week were Kacinga Kabeya and Kapinga Nglula, a couple from McKinney, Texas, who were said to be visiting New York that day, and Sneha Ann Philips, a Manhattan doctor who was last seen the night before the attacks in a department store across from the twin towers.
Only 1,538 of the confirmed victims have been matched to remains. More than 1,200 others are listed solely on the basis of court-issued death certificates, which were provided to families who could prove their loved ones were in the trade center at the time of the attack.