NEW YORK —
Some 2,750 people died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but only 1,634 people have been identified.
"We have been monitoring the World Trade Center site over time and monitoring the construction," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. "And if they see any material that could possibly contain human remains, we collect that material."
About 9,000 human remains recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center remain unidentified because they are too degraded to match victims by DNA identification. The remains are stored at an undisclosed location monitored by the medical examiner's office and will eventually be transferred to a subterranean chamber at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Some victims' families expressed impatience that the city has only just uncovered more debris.
"Quite frankly, they should've excavated this and searched it 12 years ago," said Diane Horning, whose son, Matthew, died in the attacks. "Instead, they built service roads and construction roads and were more worried about the building and the tourism than they were about the human remains."
The city's efforts to identify Sept. 11 victims have long been fraught with controversy.
In April 2005, the city's chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch, told families his office would be suspending identification efforts because it had exhausted the limits of DNA technology.
But just a year later, the discovery of human remains on a bank tower roof and then in a manhole near ground zero outraged families who said the search for their loved ones had been rushed initially. The findings prompted a renewed search that cost the city tens of millions of dollars and uncovered 1,500 pieces of remains.
Meanwhile, some victims' relatives sued the city over its decision to move 1.6 million tons of materials from the trade center site to the Fresh Kills landfill, saying the material might contain victims' ashes and should have been given a proper burial.