Workers still search for 9/11 remains, 17 years on

Sep 11, 2018, 09:23 IST | Agencies

But in a New York lab, a team is still avidly working to identify the remains, with technological progress on its side

Workers still search for 9/11 remains, 17 years on
A New York City subway station has reopened for the first time since it was destroyed 17 years ago in the 9/11 attack. Pic/AFP

Seventeen years later, more than 1,100 victims of the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center are yet to be identified. But in a New York lab, a team is still avidly working to identify the remains, with technological progress on its side. Day in, day out, they repeat the same protocol dozens of times.

At first, they examine a bone fragment found in the wreckage of the Twin Towers and try to match it with DNA samples. Cut and ground to a fine dust, the remains are then mixed with two chemical products that can expose and then extract DNA. But success is not guaranteed.

"The bone is the hardest biological material to work with," said Mark Desire, assistant director of forensic biology at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York. The 22,000 pieces of human remains found at the site since the attacks have all been tested - some 10 or 15 times already. So far, only 1,642 of the 2,753 people who died in the attacks in New York have been formally identified.

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