Search For World Trade Center Remains Likely To Go


Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 9:08 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) _ When the hunt for human remains at the World Trade Center site was renewed last fall, city officials envisioned a yearlong search.

The massive investigation, which started after an unexpected discovery of bones in an abandoned manhole, so far has unearthed hundreds of human bones missed in the cleanup immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

With more remains still being recovered daily, deputy mayor Ed Skyler said Tuesday that the goal of ending the search by this fall ``is no longer attainable.''

``Our experience over the last nine months and the ongoing rebuilding of the World Trade Center site and surrounding area suggest that search operations will continue in one form or another for the foreseeable future,'' Skyler said in a memo to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Since October, the search has yielded 677 human bones in and around ground zero; an additional 785 have been found in the past two years in a vacant skyscraper damaged on Sept. 11, 2001.

The remains of more than 1,100 Sept. 11 victims never have been positively identified. The remains of nine victims have been identified in recent months.

The city medical examiner's office will maintain a presence at the site indefinitely while construction continues, in case excavations unearth more human remains, Skyler said.

City officials have searched manholes, rooftops, sewer lines, a service road at ground zero and an area under a state highway, sometimes finding steel and debris from the destroyed towers mixed in with the remains.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the lower Manhattan site's owner, recently found material that ``could be trade center debris'' under a road in front of the World Financial Center, the skyscrapers west of ground zero, Skyler said in the memo. The agency was digging in the area to build an underground tunnel as part of a transit hub.

Thousands of family members have gathered every Sept. 11 in front of the World Financial Center to read the names of the nearly 2,800 victims killed in New York.

The Port Authority also found trade center debris while digging test pits on a nearby street to prepare for more building on the southern end of the 16-acre site, and the city is digging up a block of the road to search for remains there, Skyler said.

Construction is under way at the site on a 1,776-foot skyscraper, a Sept. 11 memorial and the transit hub. Four more office towers and a performing arts center are planned. The last office tower is scheduled to be finished by 2013.