Remains of 9/11 flight victims identified

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK - Remains of a flight attendant and passenger on the first plane to hit the World Trade Centre on September 11 have been identified in New York, as families of attack victims rallied for a thorough new Ground Zero search.

The New York medical examiner's office said in a statement that it had identified remains of Karen Ann Martin, the 40-year-old head flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, which slammed into the trade centre's north tower.

Remains of Douglas Joel Stone, 54, who was a passenger on the same flight as Martin, were also identified. The remains of a third male victim were identified, but his family requested that his name be withheld and an official declined to say whether he was on one of the two planes that struck the Twin Towers.

More than 100 people, including some families of the 2749 people killed in the attack, gathered at Ground Zero on Thursday to demand a search by forensic experts after workers clearing manholes found bones two weeks ago.

Since then more than 200 body parts, ranging from 2.5cm to 30cm in length, have been found.

The newly identified remains of three people were not from any remains found in the latest search.

"Enough of this haphazard discovery of human remains," said Diane Horning, president of WTC Families for Proper Burial, who lost her 26-year-old son Matthew on September 11. Only a small piece of him was recovered in the year after the attack.

"How many more times should we wake up in the morning, open our newspaper and read that recognizable body parts and personal items have been literally right under our feet every September 11 since our loved ones have been massacred?"

The latest discoveries of remains were near where commemoration ceremonies for families of victims have been held on each anniversary of the attacks.

Families member holding aloft pictures of lost loved ones and wearing pictures around their necks gathered next to the World Trade Centre site, along with emergency-service workers, clergy and members of the public.

The families want the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is in charge of recovering Americans missing as a result of the country's past conflicts, to search the site.

Some 1148 of the 2749 victims of the Twin Towers attack are yet to be recovered or identified. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said more than 20,800 remains had been recovered and nearly 11,000 of those had been identified.

The death toll in the attacks included nine crew members, 76 passengers and five hijackers on American Airlines Flight 11, and nine crew, 51 passengers and five hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which slammed into the trade centre's south tower 18 minutes after the first strike.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the site cleanup, although he said he was at a loss to explain why the bones discovered during the past two weeks had not been recovered sooner.

The manholes where the bones were first discovered on October 19 had been covered by a temporary road built after the attacks to allow in cranes to start removing debris. On October 27 Bloomberg agreed to expand the search underground, on rooftops and in some of the buildings surrounding Ground Zero.

Construction of a new Freedom Tower at the World Trade Centre site began in April after bickering over financing, security and design delayed plans.

Bloomberg has said no construction delays are expected as a result of the new searches.


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