A breakthrough in DNA analysis is helping identify more victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, but the scientific advance is of little consolation for families of those whose remains may have been buried in a Staten Island landfill, Reuters reports.
The official death toll in the attacks on lower Manhattan’s World Trade Center is 2,753, including the missing and presumed dead. Only 1,642 of them, or about 60 percent, have been positively identified.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office has worked for 17 years to identify the remaining 1,100 victims. Using advances in DNA extraction techniques over the past five years, it has made five more identifications.
Destruction of the Twin Towers was part of the coordinated hijackings of four airliners by al-Qaeda militants that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed in a farm field. The attacks triggered an escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East that persists to this day.
A scientific breakthrough in the extraction of genetic material was made this year and announced by the New York City chief medical examiner last week, as the 17th anniversary of the attacks approached.