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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 20:43 GMT
Tracing the WTC dead
Ruins of the World Trade Center
Work at Ground Zero continues
The director of forensic biology for New York, Dr Robert Shaler, has said he expects that about a quarter of the DNA samples taken from the site of the World Trade Center terror attack will never be identified.

I meet with these people and I feel their angst and their pain and the people in our laboratory feel the same way

Dr Robert Shaler
Speaking near the ruins, three months to the day after the attacks, he said that his team hoped to get full DNA profiles from up to 50% of samples while the remaining 25% would yield only partial results.

"We don't believe we have samples for everyone who died," Dr Shaler told BBC News Online.

He spoke of the difficulty of piecing together profiles while being aware all the time of the anxiety of the loved ones of those missing.

"I meet with these people and I feel their angst and their pain and the people in our laboratory feel the same way," he said.

Nothing overlooked

Five laboratories were working on the identification of the victims across the United States and a "long process" still lay ahead, Dr Shaler said.

But he believed that the labs had collected "virtually all of the family samples" they needed.

We're testing every single thing that comes into the lab

Dr Robert Shaler
In their work to match them up, the forensic scientists are examining almost 11,000 samples from the WTC site, including "clothing and bones or whatever it happens to be".

Most of the bodies form the site are "not intact", the forensic director said.

99th floor

"We're testing every single thing that comes into the lab," Dr Shaler said.

He pointed out that new, virtually untested techniques were being used on samples which yielded partial DNA results.

"We are making identifications every day," he said.

Dr Shaler also played down the theory that those killed in the actual explosions from the impact of the two airliners were unlikely to be identified.

He quoted a survey that showed that all of the victims identified by DNA had been located above the 99th floor of the WTC One building.

See also:

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Transcript: Bush's memorial address
07 Nov 01 | Europe
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US defends anti-terror measures
22 Nov 01 | Americas
Thanksgiving at a time of sadness
11 Dec 01 | Americas
Terror investigation switches focus
04 Dec 01 | Americas
Tourists flock to Ground Zero site
10 Dec 01 | NYC Out of the ashes
Part two: Ground zero
11 Dec 01 | Americas
World remembers time of horror
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