Lawyers who have offered their services for free will help the family members compile data to prove both their relation and the presence of that relative in the World Trade Center at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.
"If you know that your husband or father or relative was working there, and you've come to terms with the idea that they're dead and they're not going to be recovered, then you can make the choice and it's your choice to apply for the death certificate," Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.
Giuliani put the number of missing Tuesday at 6,398, a slight decline from the previous tally, as city officials examined the list of names and discovered duplicates.
Workers have recovered the bodies of 279 people, 209 of which have been identified, the mayor said.
Though emergency crews are, officially anyway, still conducting a rescue operation, the mayor said, "Realities are just realities."
"I know that this is a very painful and difficult process," Giuliani said. "We just have to begin this process, and we thought the best way to do it is to just leave it up to the families."
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York City is making arrangements for families of the missing in the World Trade Center disaster to file death certificates before their loved ones' bodies are recovered, CNN reports.