Disco queen killed by Twin Tower dust

May 19, 2012, 07:37 IST | Agencies

Donna Summer died of lung cancer, an illness she believes she contracted from inhaling toxic particles released during the 9/11 attacks

Disco legend Donna Summer died on Thursday of cancer — feared to be triggered by toxic dust from the 9/11 attacks. The 63-year-old singer was in New York when al-Qaeda destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001.

Donna died in Florida aged 63 after a long battle with lung cancer. She had been in her nearby apartment when the deadly cloud containing asbestos, lead and mercury filled the sky after the al-Qaeda jet hijack atrocity in 2001.

Donna Summers fought a secret battle with lung cancer that she believed was brought on by inhaling the asbestos dust during the 9/11 attacks

And she is thought to have believed that breathing it triggered her cancer. Speaking of her trauma, Donna once said, “I was really freaked out by the horrific experiences of that day. I couldn’t go out, I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom. I went to church and light came back into my soul. That heaviness was gone.”

Donna also had a premonition fanatics would target New York a month before it happened. She recalled in 2008, “My husband and I were walking down the street. I had this feeling. I said, ‘Honey, I feel like terrorism, high on top of the buildings’.”

The attacks killed around 3,000 people on the day. But the toxic legacy of 9/11 is still claiming lives more than ten years later. It is believed that around 1,000 people exposed to the dust have died — 350 of them from cancer. Dr John Howard, the 9/11 Federal Health Director, said: “I think it is plausible that many people will die of the many conditions we’ve seen due to their exposure.”

Tributes pour in
Yesterday, tributes poured in for the Queen of Disco credited with defining the dance music era of the 1970s. Her family said in a statement: “We lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith.

Tributes pour in for the legendary singer

While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.”

Among those paying tribute were US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. The president released a statement saying,“Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Donna Summer.

A five-time Grammy Award winner, Donna truly was the ‘Queen of Disco.’ Her voice was unforgettable, and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna’s family and her dedicated fans.”

Legendary producer Quincy Jones tweeted: “Rest in Peace dear Donna Summer. Your voice was the heartbeat and soundtrack of a decade.” Singer Rihanna wrote: “RIP Donna Summer, Queen of Disco.” 

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