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Intact bodies, DNA matches lead to more victim IDs

©Associated Press
December 29, 2001

NEW YORK -- The number of identified World Trade Center victims has sharply increased in the past two weeks because of the increased use of DNA tests and the finding of more intact bodies, officials said.

The city medical examiner's office identified 58 victims from Dec. 17 to Thursday. The office has been identifying as many as 14 to 16 victims daily.

"As the DNA results come back, we can expect more of this," said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner's office. As of Thursday, 94 victims had been identified by matching the genetic profile of human remains with DNA samples taken from items owned or worn by victims, she said.

Before mid December, the number of identifications each day was generally in the single digits -- sometimes only one or two.

Borakove also said 12 intact bodies had been recovered from below ground zero since Dec. 21. Authorities had speculated that bodies of those who perished in the center's underground areas, rather than in the 110-story twin towers, would be more likely to be relatively intact.

Recovery teams had begun exploring subterranean levels of the trade center for the first time in early December.

In all, 248 intact bodies have been recovered at the site, Borakove said Thursday. The medical examiner's office had 12,011 body parts on hand, each one cataloged for eventual DNA comparison.

On Thursday, the city's number of dead and missing in the Sept. 11 attack on the trade center, including those on the two hijacked jetliners, stood at 2,939.

The total includes 574 "positively identified" remains, for which the medical examiner has issued death certificates, Borakove said. An additional 1,979 death certificates have been issued to families without remains. The other 386 people on the victim list are classified as missing.

Borakove said the positive identifications so far include 125 of the 343 firefighters lost in the attack, six of the 23 New York police officers who were killed, and nine of 37 Port Authority officers.

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