ibnlive » India

Sep 11, 2006 at 01:53pm IST

34 Indians perished in 9/11 attacks

New York: Of those who died in the 9/11 tragedy on September 11, 2001, the third largest ethnic group was that of Indians. In April 2002, the New York Department of Health put the figure at 34.

However, beyond the numbers are the stories of individuals who were impacted by the events of 9/11.

Forty-nine year old Joseph Mathai worked out of Arlington, Massachusetts, and had to attend a two-day conference at the World Trade Center. One of those days was September 11, 2001.

About 10 minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Centre, Mathai went down to an ATM machine and then returned upstairs.

Says Joseph's brother Cherian Mathai, ""I came to know that he was at the World Trade Center when I contacted his wife in Cambridge Massachusetts. She had spoken to him at around 9 AM that day. She had called him to alert him about what was happening at the Twin Towers."

"Joseph told his wife that he was infact on the top most floor of the World Trade Center, in the first tower. He said that the evacuation procedure was going on. That was the last message she got from him."

Cherian Mathai and his family went looking in all the hospitals where victims were taken, but with little luck.

Then Cherian gave a DNA sample and two days later his brother's body was identified. Joseph Mathai was buried in Arlington.

"It doesn't change a bit from the very first day. It's impossible to say how much we miss him, especially in regard with what happened to him. It's still the same for me five years later," says Cherian.

"There is an oft repeated sentiment that time cures all griefs and problems, but in my case that has not happened yet because I still miss him a lot," he adds.

And, of course, each anniversary brings the pain to the surface yet again and this is just one of the thousands of stories of trauma and grief emanating from 9/11.