Obama signs 9/11 health bill

2011-01-03 10:30

Kaneohe - US President Barack Obama signed into law on Sunday a bill to compensate emergency responders sickened in the rubble of the September 11 attacks, the White House said in a statement.

The president is currently in Hawaii, where he spent the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and was expected back in Washington on Tuesday. He had been due to sign the bill at the Kaneohe Marine base near his vacation home.

The US Congress on December 22 approved a 10-year, $4bn programme to help police, fire-fighters and other workers made ill by the fumes left in the wake of the worst attack on US soil.

The Senate and then the House of Representatives passed the measure after a last-minute compromise ended a Republican blockade in one of the final acts of the Democrat-led US Congress.

The measure offers healthcare and compensation to fire-fighters, police officers and other first responders who rushed to the scene of the World Trade Centre attack in 2001.

Some of the emergency workers who survived the collapse of the Twin Towers have become sick and even died from ailments like cancer in the nine years since, purportedly from toxic substances contained in the wreckage.

Almost 3 000 people died on September 11 2001 when planes hijacked by al-Qaeda suicide operatives were flown into the World Trade Centre, as well as the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Another 70 000 people claim to have been exposed to the toxic fumes.