Medical examiner to search for human remains near WTC site where possible 9/11 plane part was found

A part of a landing gear, apparently from one of the commercial airliners destroyed on September 11, 2001, has been discovered wedged between two buildings in lower Manhattan. NYPD

NEW YORK The New York City medical examiner's office is expected to begin searching for human remains this week near the World Trade Center site after a part believed to be from a Sept. 11 hijacked plane was found, CBS New York reports.

Workers found the mangled piece of metal wedged between two buildings on Wednesday in a gap just 18 inches wide.

Two CBS News aviation consultants said that the Boeing 767 plane part discovered in Lower Manhattan is not landing gear, as was initially reported.

According to retired airline pilot Chelsey Sullengberger: "It is a part of the mechanism that extends the flaps at the back of the wing. It moves them back and down to increase the size and curvature of the wing to provide more lift at slower speeds, primarily for takeoff and landing."

"It's shocking to me," Newark resident Mirza Katideen told CBS New York. "I would never imagine 11 years later, they'd find something like that."

Police said Saturday that Boeing Co. had confirmed the wreckage was from a Boeing 767. The part had a clearly visible Boeing identification number, police said.

The American Airlines and United Airlines planes hijacked by Islamic extremists in 2001 were Boeing 767s. Boeing spokesman John Dern said he could not confirm whether the ID matched the American Airlines plane or the United Airlines plane.

The medical examiner's office plans to search for Sept. 11 human remains in the alley where the piece was found.

The chief medical examiner's spokeswoman, Ellen Borakove, said the area first will be tested as part of a standard health and safety evaluation for possible toxicity. She said sifting for human remains is to begin Tuesday morning.

Of the nearly 3,000 victims, about a 1,000 families have never recovered any traces of their loved ones.

Retired fire department Deputy Chief Jim Riches, who lost his son in the terrorist attacks, visited the site on Saturday. He said the latest news left him feeling "upset."

He said: "The finding of this (plane part) just goes to show that we need federal people in here to do a comprehensive, full search of lower Manhattan to make sure that we don't get any more surprises," as happened in 2007 when body parts were discovered in nearby sewers and manhole covers.

The NYPD has declared the alley a crime scene where nothing may be disturbed until the medical examiner's office completes its work. It's unclear how long that may take, Borakove said.

The twisted metal part has cables and levers on it and is about 5 feet high, 17 inches wide and 4 feet long, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.

"It's a manifestation of a horrific terrorist act a block and a half away from where we stand," he said after visiting the alley.

As authorities continue to investigate the alley, workers at nearby One World Trade Center will raise the final two sections of the 408-foot spire that will sit on top of the building.

When the last pieces of its spire rise to the roof, the 104-floor skyscraper will be just feet from becoming the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

Installation of the 800-ton spire began in December after 18 pieces were shipped from Canada and New Jersey.

The spire will serve as a world-class broadcast antenna and provide public transmission services for television and radio broadcast channels that were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, along with the trade center towers.

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