The list was cut from 2,792 to 2,752, a decision made by several city agencies, including the medical examiner's office, the police department and the mayor's office.
The names removed include illegal immigrants whose jobs were not well documented and people whose relatives say they were near the trade center on Sept. 11, 2001, but know little more.
Among the 40 names deleted from the list were those of 4-year-old Barrett Vanvelzer, his 11-month-old brother, Edward, and their father, Paul Herman Vanvelzer. Authorities had said that they were reported missing by a California woman who said she was their grandmother. Their case had attracted attention because the boys would have been the only children to die in the attacks other than several youngsters on the hijacked airliners.
Officials had no immediate comment Wednesday on why the three names were taken off the list.
Thousands of names landed on the list in the chaos immediately after the attack, when worried callers swamped the city's "missing" hot lines to report a friend or relative they hadn't heard from.
Missing-person reports poured in from around the world, many from people who gave only sketchy information, partial phone numbers, misspelled names and few details.
The city formed a group called the Reported Missing Committee, charged with weeding out fraud and crossing errors off the death list, which peaked at 6,700 two weeks after the attack.
As of early September 2003, police had made about 40 arrests related to people falsely claiming they lost loved ones, and law enforcement agencies in other cities have nabbed others.
In most cases, victims whose remains have not been identified have been legally declared dead by the court and their families issued death certificates based on documents or other proof they were at the trade center or on the hijacked airplanes.
In the names removed Wednesday, no such proof was ever found and remains were never identified. About 60 percent of the victims have had remains identified.
The tally had stood at 2,792 since December 2002.
Days before the first anniversary remembrance last year, the city released its list of 2,801 names, which were read aloud by relatives and dignitaries. By that December, city officials removed nine of the names. One was a duplication, one was fabricated by a woman allegedly trying to defraud victims' charities and seven had been wrongly reported missing.
Here are the names that authorities removed from the World Trade Center fatalities list:
Nathaly Barrios La Cruz
Jose Manuel Contreras-Fernandez
Rafael Arturo Diaz
Joel Guevara Gonzalez
Victor Martinez Pastrana
Juan Romero Orozco
Mohammad Ali Sadeque
Jorge Octavio Santos Anaya
Paul Herman Vanvelzer
By Sara Kugler