Workers at World Trade Center are finding firefighters' bodies

January 06, 2002|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

NEW YORK - Charred oxygen tanks. A torn backpack. Fragments of bone and clothing.

With increasing frequency, artifacts of the Sept. 11 rescue efforts at the World Trade Center are being found, embedded 30 feet deep in a buried hill of gray debris along West Street.

The area - between where the north tower and the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel once stood - is believed to be the sunken remnants of a street-level staging area where firefighters assembled for marching orders.

Since New Year's Eve, 14 bodies, including those of 10 firefighters, have been pulled from voids in the compressed hillside, recovery workers said.

As many as 50 of the city's firefighters might be buried there, sources said last week.

"This is where a Fire Department command post and staging area were," said Gerard Gary, 37, a machine operator who maneuvers a heavy grappler.

"We are doing everything very carefully," he said. "We really think there's a lot of bodies close by."

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