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article imageRemains of unidentified WTC victims to be moved to museum

By Nathan Salant     May 8, 2014 in World
New York - Still-unidentified remains of as many as 1,000 victims of the terrorist attack that destroyed New York City's two tallest buildings in 2001 will likely be moved Saturday to a new repository at the old World Trade Center site.
Plans call for the human remains to be moved to a new facility, part of a new museum at the site, where they will be off-limits to anyone except relatives and medical examiners.
Families of the victims were notified about the move during the past week and many were not happy about it, according to the Cable News Network (CNN).
Sally Regenhard of Yonkers, whose son was killed in the collapse of the twin 110-story towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and who now helps lead the group 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and W.T.C. Victims, has asked for the transfer to be delayed.
“Just postpone the transfer of these remains until you survey the families,” Regenhard said.
"What makes it worse is that they are doing this the day before Mother’s Day, which is one of the most hard, horrible holidays for us,” she said.
“This is a major bungle,” said New York resident Charles Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, died in the attack.
Wolf said he did not learn about the date until an email sent out by the city was forwarded to him.
“It’s been haphazardly put together, which for a very sensitive issue like this leaves a terrible taste in the mouth,” he said.
More than 40 percent of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center, 1,115 victims, have never been found, an official with the city medical examiner's office told CNN.
That office holds nearly 8,000 remains, 36 percent of the nearly 22,000 remains recovered so far, the official said.
The date of the transfer was revealed a week ago in an email to relatives from Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, CNN said.
“On May 10th, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner will transfer unidentified remains” to the repository," the email said, and that her office would “continue to maintain exclusive jurisdiction over the remains.”
The new repository is in the same building as the National September 11 Memorial Museum, CNN said.
The email also said families would be able to visit a private "Reflection Room" beginning on May 15, nearly a week before the museum opens to the public.
But some relatives complained they did not get the email and said a phone number provided went to automated voice mail.
A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the remains would be moved from the medical examiner's office to the new facility with a procession of official vehicles but no dignitaries or religious figures would be present.
“Family members will, of course, be welcome to gather around the plaza of the site as the remains are moved down,” the mayor's spokesman said.
Many relatives expressed some satisfaction with the new arrangements, according to the New York Times.
“I am pleased that the city is doing something in a very respectful way," said Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, was killed on Sept. 11.
Ielpi said he did not receive an email and got only voice mail when he tried to get more information for members of his group, the September 11th Families’ Association.
“I understand that this should not be a spectacle, but a solemn procession of the human remains to what might be their last resting place,” Ielpi said.
Lee Ielpi, who lost his son, Jonathan, said that he did not get an email and reached only voice mail on Monday when he tried to learn more on behalf of families who are in contact with the September 11th Families’ Association, of which he is the board president.
However, Mr. Ielpi, 69, said, “I am pleased that the city is doing something in a very respectful way.
“I understand that this should not be a spectacle, but a solemn procession of the human remains to what might be their last resting place.”
Eileen Fagan of Toms River, N.J., said she was happy with the plans for remains of her sister, Patricia.
“That is where they died, that is where there is a proper memorial for them, and to me it is a good, safe and holy place,” she said.
More about 911, New york, World trade center, Terrorist attacks, Museum
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