NEW YORK (AP) _ More than 6,000 people were wrongly thrown off welfare by an administrative error that could deprive hundreds of families of benefits over the Thanksgiving weekend, The New York Times reported today.

The cases were closed because of an error involving a questionnaire mailed recently to thousands of welfare recipients across the city, Human Resources Administration officials told the Times.

The questionnaire, processed by a private contractor, asked welfare recipients if they wanted their cases kept open. The responses were reversed, so those saying they needed continued benefits instead had their cases closed, officials said. Closing a case terminates a recipient's access to cash benefits, food stamps and Medicaid.

Caseworkers have been told to give emergency checks to people who go to the agency's centers, HRA spokeswoman Renalda Higgins said. But it could be at least a week before recipients who do not go to the centers have their benefits restored.