- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

RICHMOND (AP) State officials want to ease Virginia's rigorous rules for obtaining death certificates for the families of five persons killed in the September 11 terrorist assault at the Pentagon whose remains were destroyed beyond identification.
Ten of the 188 persons killed when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon remain unidentified, said Health and Human Resources Secretary Louis F. Rossiter.
Four of the unidentified were in the Pentagon and one was a victim aboard the plane. The remaining five are presumed to be the terrorists, he said.
The crash, the explosion and the prolonged, intense fire destroyed the remains of the five victims to the point that DNA testing could not establish their identities, said Marcella Fierro, Virginia's chief medical examiner.
When bodies are damaged beyond conventional identification, DNA testing is necessary to provide evidence of person's death required to issue a death certificate. Without the evidence, state law requires kin to wait seven years to establish a legal presumption of death and obtain a certificate.
Mr. Rossiter said a bill before the General Assembly next month would allow families of the five unidentifiable victims to avoid the seven-year wait by petitioning the Circuit Court in Arlington County for an order declaring the relative dead.


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