The number of first responders who have died from 9/11-related illnesses has now matched the number who lost their lives on the day of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The New York Fire Department (NYFD) has confirmed that two more firefighters who responded to the 9/11 terror attacks have recently died, bringing the total number of illness-related deaths to 343.
New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in a statement: “With these deaths, we have reached a sombre, remarkable milestone.
“Our hearts break for the families of these members, and all who loved them.”
Shortly after the 22nd anniversary of the attacks, emergency medical technician Hilda Vannata died on September 20 from cancer. Retired firefighter Robert Fulco died of pulmonary fibrosis on September 23, according to city officials.
The NYFD has confirmed that both illnesses were a “result of time they spent working in the rescue and recovery at the World Trade Center site.”
“We have long known this day was coming, yet it’s reality is astounding just the same,” added Kavanagh.
“343 of our heroes lost in one day, and today, 343 more. The FDNY will never forget them. This is our legacy. This is our promise,” she said.
Alongside the rise in the number of firefighters and first responders who died following rescue operations at ground zero, the number of diseases connected to the World Trade Center attacks continues to grow.
Around 11,000 firefighters have suffered from 9/11-related illnesses, including 3,500 who have cancer, according to the fire department.
Exposure to the toxic materials in the aftermath of the disaster has been linked to heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Currently, there are more than 71,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry – which tracks the health of 9/11 first responders and others who were in the vicinity of the attacks.
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