Landfill Search for WTC Remains Over
N E W Y O R K, July 15 — Workers and victims' family members gathered today at a Staten Island landfill to mark the end of a grueling and emotional 10 months spent searching for human remains from the collapsed World Trade Center.
"We see the best and the worst," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, standing a few feet from a heaping mound of debris at the Fresh Kills landfill. "We are here because of the worst of humanity, the terrorists who caused so many deaths and so much pain."
"We will not forget 2,800 people who died … to make this the best country in the world," said Bloomberg, who also praised the recovery workers for helping "to give us some closure."
John Tedesco, a firefighter from Engine 9 in Manhattan who sifted through the debris with hundreds of other firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers, was philosophical about finishing up the work.
"It has to end sooner or later. You can't keep going on. There has to be a stopping point, but there will never be closure because so many people haven't been found," Tedesco said.
The landfill became the final stop for debris after Sept. 11 as trucks and barges began hauling rubble from the World Trade Center to be sifted one last time for remains, personal property and criminal evidence.
Remains from about 1,200 victims have been identified.
Workers expressed mixed emotions as the job ended, said Col. John O'Dowd, commander of the New York district of the Army Corps of Engineers, which supervised the operation.
"It was not very pleasant, what they had to do," O'Dowd said Sunday. "On the other hand, the people that worked there worked under some pretty trying conditions, and that tends to bring people close together."
O'Dowd said the focus always was "to bring something home to the families of those that were lost."
The excavation of the ruins in lower Manhattan ended last month, and the last truckload of debris from a building near Ground Zero arrived at the landfill June 28.
At the height of the operation, 7,000 tons of material was processed each day as forensic experts in respirators manned conveyors, ready to stop the debris flow when they spotted a bone shard or other remains.
Thousands of wrecked vehicles were stacked in rows, next to mangled concrete and heaps of steel. Boxes of rings, watches, wallets and ID cards filled trailers parked on the 160-acre site.
— The Associated Press
Four Pakistanis Jump Ship in Louisiana
D E S T R E H A N, La., July 15 — Four Pakistani nationals working aboard a grain ship docked near New Orleans left the vessel without permission and were apparently headed for Texas, authorities said.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service and border control agents were trying to track down the men Sunday evening. The men were ordered not to leave their ship as part of a standard INS order.
Investigators don't yet know why the men left the ship, but said they do not consider them dangerous. The men have no criminal records in this country, officials said.
"We don't have any information that they are criminals or terrorists or anything of that nature," St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne said.
Champagne said the four men, all in their 20s and 30s, called a taxi and investigators have talked to the driver who picked them up around 8 a.m. Sunday.