By Karla Schuster

NEW YORK – The expanded search for human remains at the former World Trade Center site is complete — for now, the city said Tuesday, announcing that the recovery effort would wind down until new areas in and around ground zero are excavated.

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, in a memo to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that the city Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday finished sifting the last of nearly 15,000 cubic yards of material excavated since the renewed search for remains began in October 2006.

As a result, the city will shut down a Brooklyn facility it opened last December to analyze the remains. The city will convert that to a mobile unit that will be available as other parts of the site are excavate.

Skyler insisted in the memo that the city has not ended the search for remains but rather that the news “marks the start of a new phase in the continuing search for remains of the victims” of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“At no point in the near future would it be prudent to declare this search over,” Skyler wrote.

Still, victims’ families were skeptical Tuesday about the city’s intentions, noting that the city ended its official search in February 2005 — until a Con Ed crew stumbled upon bones in an abandoned manhole on the site last year.

So far, the city has found 1,772 bones and fragments. Skyler said that seven people have been identified from remains found in a service road.

at ground zero and on the roof of the bank building, Skyler said.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

AP-NY-12-11-07 2232EST

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