Video: 9/11 remains found

updated 10/23/2006 3:51:45 PM ET 2006-10-23T19:51:45

Construction at the World Trade Center site won’t stop, despite the recent discovery of more than 100 pieces of bone and human remains believed to belong to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the mayor said Monday.

Searchers have yet to open more than half the underground spaces apparently overlooked during the initial excavation of ground zero. Already they have found more than 100 pieces of human remains, ranging in size from tiny fragments to leg bones.

The medical examiner’s office said 18 new pieces were found Sunday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterated Monday that construction at the site in lower Manhattan will not be stopped for the search. He said the city has “every reason to be phenomenally proud” of those who carried out the initial recovery effort, when nearly 20,000 pieces of human remains were found.

“There’s no reason for anybody to be embarrassed — it was a very big job. And just the reality of it is, there will always be more places you could have gone,” Bloomberg said.

Relatives of some of the 2,749 people killed in the attacks and collapse of the twin towers have called for the rebuilding to stop until the recovery is finished. For about 40 percent of the victims, no remains have yet been identified.

“Their actions say remains are not a priority, they’re secondary to the rebuilding,” said Charles Wolf, who lost his wife and has never received any of her identified remains. “This is bringing up all the gnawing, gut-wrenching stuff inside us again.”

Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, who is overseeing the renewed recovery effort, said officials had identified additional manholes and utility cavities that need to be examined.

About five have been excavated and the searchers expect to burrow into at least 12 more subterranean areas in coming days.

“They will go through every grain, every piece of material carefully, and sift through it,” Skyler said.

The underground pockets are located along the western edge of the 16-acre site, underneath a service road built in March 2002 to free up traffic on a major thruway that had been closed since the attacks.

Some below-ground cavities that had been used for utility and infrastructure purposes were paved over without being searched until crews doing routine work recently opened a manhole and discovered human bones.

The active search for the dead ended after the removal of 1.5 million tons of debris, but more remains have been found since 2002. Hundreds of bone fragments were recently discovered on the roof of a nearby skyscraper that was badly damaged in the attack and had been condemned.

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