NEW YORK -- Large steel columns from the fallen twin towers have been
found beneath a service road being excavated at ground zero in the
search for long-buried Sept. 11 remains, officials said Wednesday.
The surprising discovery of World Trade Center steel in the past week
raises more questions about what was left at ground zero in the cleanup
after the 2001 attacks and how the service road was created in the
steel, found during a dig for human remains that has yielded nearly 300
bones in the past three months, includes two heavy beams that were
stacked horizontally in the landfill, as if moved and placed there, a
person with direct knowledge of the discovery told The Associated
Press. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the findings
and insisted on anonymity.
The discovery was confirmed by
officials for the city and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
which owned the trade center.
The columns were about 18 feet long
and perhaps 60 tons each. Officials believe the steel columns, located
a week ago just 2 to 3 feet below the surface of the road, were
deliberately set there at some point during the cleanup, perhaps to
stabilize heavy machinery in use at the time.
Deputy Mayor Ed
Skyler, who is overseeing the search for remains, declined to speculate
on how the steel might have ended up where it did.
halted in the immediate area surrounding the steel columns until the
Port Authority removes the steel. The columns will be put into storage
at a hangar at Kennedy International Airport, agency spokesman Steve
Coleman said Wednesday. The hangar stores all sorts of artifacts from
the trade center, including what was believed to be the last column
removed from the site in May 2002.
The person with knowledge of
the discovery told the AP that three connected steel columns that once
formed the facade of the trade center were also found below the road.
Another column was found on the other end of the trade center site,
where the Port Authority is building a retaining wall for three planned
office towers, the person said. Unlike the stacked columns, this steel
appeared to be burned at one end.
Officials involved in the
initial cleanup have said that some steel pierced the ground as it fell
and later was cut off above street level to speed up parts of the
Coleman said the two heavy columns were the only steel
found in the service road in the three-month-old search for remains.
City officials confirmed that other steel had been found beyond the two
Throughout the renewed search for remains, crews
had been finding smaller bits of debris from the towers as they dug
into the material under the service road.
In December, Skyler
expanded the search in that area because of the discoveries of small
scraps of steel, electrical wires, computer parts and office carpeting
-- but nothing that came close to the major pieces of trade center
"We've been finding material from the buildings throughout
the haul road, so in that context it's not that surprising," Skyler
said. "What's most important to us is locating remains that we can find
and returning them to the families."