New York Mayor Bloomberg visits World Trade Center site to observe search for remains

Saturday, November 4th 2006, 5:46 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Michael Bloomberg quietly visited the World Trade Center site, thanking crews for their work on the renewed search for remains of Sept. 11 victims, according to those at the site.

After human bones were inadvertently found in a manhole at ground zero last month, the city launched a wider effort to examine other subterranean areas that may have been overlooked during the months-long cleanup years ago. Some 200 pieces of remains have since been found.

In a spontaneous visit Friday afternoon, Bloomberg walked along the western edge of the site where workers are digging into several cavities beneath a service road.

He stopped to peer into manholes and shake hands with some of the utility crews, law enforcement officials and forensic experts from the medical examiner's office who are taking part in the new search.

The mayor also visited the area where forensic anthropologists are sifting the debris through a series of mesh screens.

``He wanted to see the operation for himself,'' said Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, who is overseeing the recovery. ``He made his appreciation clear to all the workers there.''

The service road was built in the spring of 2002 as the trade center cleanup was under way. Officials now believe a number of manholes and other underground pockets were covered over by the road and forgotten. The city has also been investigating whether debris from the site may have been used as landfill to create the road, though some of the fill has now been removed and sifted, and no remains have been found.

Before he visited the site Friday, the mayor acknowledged during his weekly radio show that the area was overlooked in the initial cleanup.

``There was a layer of fill put over it and tarred over to get equipment in to work on the site, and you know, later on, nobody went back,'' he said. ``Should they have? In retrospect, sure.''

Some families of victims are pushing for the city to surrender the search to a military forensic unit that specializes in finding and identifying human remains. Bloomberg has repeatedly resisted the call, and said during his radio show that the city is well-staffed with its own forensic experts.

Officials say several more will be hired for the next phase of the project, which involves looking for remains in other underground areas and a number of nearby buildings.

No additional bones were found Friday.