Six years after 9/11, the personal repercussions are still being felt in America. Thousands died in the terrorist attacks, and their families received compensation. But many rescuers who struggled to help in the dreadful conditions are still suffering.
Democrat Carolyn Maloney says they have been forgotten: “On 9/11, three thousand people lost their lives, many thousands more lost their health. We provided compensation for the innocent Americans who lost their lives, but not for the men and women who ran in to protect and try to save them, who then became sick or died as a result.”
Former New York policeman John Walcott was at Ground Zero. He is fighting leukaemia, and believes it is linked to the toxic conditions. “It’s frustrating to know, back then you didn’t know,” he said. “You just went to help people, now that you find out, you read that they knew the air was bad and they still sent you in there.”
A class action has been launched on behalf of ten thousand people, suing New York City and clean-up agencies for the health problems affecting rescuers exposed to the conditions at the World Trade Centre.
Lawyer David Worby said: “Even if the city wasn’t negligent and these people got sick because they weren’t given respirators, and it’s no-one’s fault, how do you not compensate firemen and cops, construction workers who went down there to help America, and who are sick and dying today, especially when there’s a fund set aside for that purpose? It’s very sad.”
As America and the world remember the events of six years ago, the fall-out from the attacks is a painful, daily reminder of the horrors of that day, and the weeks and months that followed.