"We would like to see the other 40 percent of the families who have never recovered anything to at least someday have a piece of their loved one," Riches said. "That they can go to a cemetery and pray."
About 60 truckloads of debris that could contain tiny fragments of bone or tissue were unearthed by construction crews that have been working on the new World Trade Center in recent years. That material is now being transported to a park built on top of the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where investigators will attempt to find any possible remains during the next 10 weeks, the city said. That's the material the two potential human remains were found in.
The city's last sifting effort ended in 2010. This time, crews were able to dig up parts of the trade center site that were previously inaccessible to workers, the city said.
Some 2,750 people died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but only 1,634 people have been identified.
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.
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.
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.
The lawsuit was dismissed, and unsuccessfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Charles G. Wolf was pleased to hear about the renewed search, though he believes that his wife, Katherine, was vaporized during the attack. Investigators have never found her remains.