The remains of a victim from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center have been positively identified, the New York City medical examiner’s office said Monday.
At the request of the family, the name of the victim will not be released, although sources confirmed with the New York Post that the victim was a male and not a police officer, firefighter, or other first responder.
The remains of the victim were positively identified through retesting of DNA. The last 16 years have brought about a number of advances in DNA technology and, with it, retesting of remains previously recovered.
Following the attacks, very few fully intact bodies were found, although more than 21,900 pieces of human remains were recovered from Ground Zero. The unwavering effects of the heat, bacteria, and chemicals from the explosion and subsequent collapse of the towers have made analyzing the remains difficult.
The man was the latest of 1,641 victims to be positively identified since the attack in 2001 and the first victim to be identified in more than two years. Altogether, 2,753 people were killed in the attacks and about 40 percent of the victims – 1,112 – have yet to be positively identified, according to NBC News.
“Since the immediate days following the World Trade Center disaster in 2001, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner has worked to identify the victims, and we will continue to uphold this commitment using the most advanced scientific methods available,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson.
More recently, the medical examiner’s office has used a process which requires pulverization of remains to extract DNA, which is then analyzed alongside DNA collected from families of the victims. While some remains have been tested – and retested – 10 or more times, the majority of the tests have resulted in DNA being matched to victims who were already previously identified.
Aside from the more than 2,700 people who lost their lives that day at the Twin Towers, over 1,100 more people have since died and an estimated 50,000 sickened as a result of 9/11-related illnesses.