Source AP ©

New York to dig up World Trade Center area

World Trade Center rebuilding and an ongoing search for human remains have continued to unearth debris from the fallen twin towers under nearby roads and possibly under ground.

Hundreds of human bones, ranging from fragments to full arm and leg bones, have been found since October and continue to be recovered daily in a massive city-led search for the remains of victims missed in the cleanup right after the 2001 terrorist attacks. City officials have searched manholes, rooftops, sewer lines, a service road at ground zero and 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, deputy mayor Ed Skyler said Tuesday in a memo to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 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 (6.5-hectare)site, and the city is digging up a block of the road to search for remains there, Skyler said.

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. A goal to end the search for remains by this fall "is no longer attainable," he added.

"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.

Construction is under way at the site on a 1,776-foot (540-meter) skyscraper, a Sept. 11 memorial and a transit hub. Four more office towers and a performing arts center are planned. The last office tower is scheduled to be finished by 2013.

The search since October 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.

None of the bones recovered in the past two years has been matched to the more than 1,100 Sept. 11 victims whose remains have never been positively identified. The medical examiner's office is retesting remains to obtain stronger DNA profiles to lead to identifications. The remains of nine victims have been identified in recent months.

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