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With 40 percent of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center still unidentified, experts are holding out hope that improvements in DNA-analysis methods will allow future identification of at least some of the remains of 1,112 victims still unaccounted for.

After a flurry of identification in the first years after the attack 16 years ago — mostly through DNA but also by checking of dental records and personal effects — the process of associating names to the fragmented remains of the total 2,753 people who died at the Twin Towers has slowed to less than a trickle in recent years. Last month DNA was used to identify one female victim.

A key aspect of the problem is that the unidentified remains — totaling 7,556 fragments out of an original nearly 22,000 — were subjected to catastrophic conditions in the attacks and the immediate aftermath. That had the effect of degrading whatever DNA existed, in some cases making future identification nearly impossible, experts have said.

But in the years since the attack, the best hope to identify the thousands of remains held in a special repository at Ground Zero lies with advances in DNA techniques which, experts said, can be employed to find usable evidence where none could be found earlier, as with last month’s discovery.

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