| 10.4°C Dublin

$650m for 10,000 injured in Ground Zero rescue

A legal battle has been settled giving a $650m payout to rescue workers injured in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York.

After years of fighting in court, lawyers representing more than 10,000 ground zero workers have agreed to pay up to $657.5m (f480m) to responders sickened by dust from the destroyed World Trade Centre.

The cash settlement was announced by the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a special entity established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The deal, which still must be approved by a judge and the workers themselves, would make the city and other companies represented by the insurer liable for a minimum of $575m (f420m), with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the settlement "a fair and reasonable resolution to a complex set of circumstances."

"The resolution of the World Trade Center litigation will allow the first responders and workers to be compensated for injuries suffered following their work at Ground Zero," he said.

Carpenter James Nolan, of suburban Yonkers, said he helped recover bodies and build ramps for firehoses at the site and then developed lung and leg problems, for which he takes six medications. He said the city knew the air was dirty so he sued six years ago and now he's happy the case is ending.

"We've had to fight for what we deserve," said Nolan (45). "I'm glad it's coming to an end where I can feel a little comfortable that if I pass away my wife and kids can get something."

Workers who wish to participate in the settlement would need to prove they had been at the World Trade Center site or other facilities that handled debris. They also would have to provide medical records and information aimed at weeding out fraudulent claims.

For the settlement to be enforced, 95pc of the workers would need to agree to be bound by its terms.