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4 more Flight 93 passengers identified

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

By Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Somerset County coroner said yesterday that officials have now identified the remains of 16 of the 44 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, the plane that crashed into a former strip mine in rural Stonycreek Sept. 11.

The addition of four names to the list came through DNA sampling -- the first DNA matches made in the identification of remains, Coroner Wallace Miller said yesterday.

Identifications of remains of the first 12 passengers, made through the beginning of last week, was done using dental records and fingerprints. Investigators had exhausted that avenue and have since been relying exclusively on DNA, which will enable the coroner's office to identify more remains at a steady pace, Miller said.

DNA identification requires use of DNA samples, such as hair culled from a hairbrush or material taken from a toothbrush.

"Obviously, the families have provided no information of those people," Miller said.

He said that none of the remains identified belonged to the four hijackers who seized control of the Newark-to-San Francisco flight, then turned it southeast -- possibly aimed for a crash landing in the Washington, D.C., area -- before passengers tried to wrest back the controls.

The decimation of the Boeing 757 and its passengers led Miller and a team working for him to the painstaking routine of recovering and identifying remains.

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