New York City police officials have confirmed that a five-foot-tall piece of landing gear discovered this week is believed to be from one of the hijacked planes involved in the Sept.11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
The debris was not discovered until recently because it had been jammed for over a decade in an 18-inch-wide sliver of open space between two buildings. Police say they know it is from one of the American Airlines airliners because it bears a Boeing identification number. Besides the single piece of twisted metal, there is also a piece of rope and a broken part of a broken pulley police say was likely torn from the roof from one of the buildings.
The odds of the wrecked metal resting there for nearly 12 years “is amazing,” New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne told reporters Friday. “It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space.”
Building surveyors discovered the debris Wednesday. They were inspecting the site of a planned Islamic community center at 51 Park Place, at the request of the building owner. The site is located three blocks from ground zero in Manhattan. The debris was located between that building and a luxury loft rental building located at 50 Murray Street.
In a statement, Sharif El-Gamal, president of Soho Properties, which owns the 51 Park Place building, said his company is cooperating with city and police officials to ensure the wreckage “is removed with care as quickly and effectively as possible.”
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is going to complete a medical exam of the area Monday to evaluate possible toxicity of the site; depending on the outcome of that review, investigators will search for possible human remains. When the aircraft wreckage is eventually removed, it will be housed and secured by the city property clerk.
The discovery follows a similar investigation over the past month at a landfill on nearby Staten Island where forensic scientists from the city medical examiner office have found potential human remains connected to the attack at the World Trade Center. To date, 41 percent of victims of the Sept. 11 attack have not been formally identified.