Americas

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Bone fragments from 9/11 victims moved in solemn procession

Published 10/05/2014|09:42

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Thousands of unidentified bone fragments from people who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center have been moved in a solemn procession through New York.

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The 7,930 vacuum-sealed plastic pouches travelled from the city medical examiner's office to the new Trade Center site.

They will be kept in a bedrock repository 21m underground in the new September 11 Memorial Museum that opens on May 21.

The remains will be accessible only to families of the dead and to the forensic scientists who are still trying to match the bone slivers to DNA from the more than 1,000 unidentified victims.

"Our commitment to return the remains to the families is as great today as it was in 2001," announced Mark Desire, who oversees the four-member World Trade Center team in New York's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The death toll stemming from the attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, stands at 2,753.

Of those, 1,115 victims have not been identified through a DNA match to items provided by families, toothbrushes, combs, clothing or swabs from relatives.

With ever-advancing technology yielding results that were impossible a dozen years ago, the unique genetic code gleaned from the bits of bone is the only hope for families waiting for anything tangible to officially confirm what they already know: that their loved one is dead.

Four new identifications were made this past year.

Family members have long endorsed the ongoing identification process, even as some protested this weekend's move of the remains to the museum site, which they fear could be prone to flooding.

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