A difficult task: Naming the dead

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Faced with the loss of dental records, the rapid decomposition of bodies in this hot coastal environment and the vast destruction of personal possessions, public health officials face a difficult, if not insurmountable, task in identifying many of the dead from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Experts say many of the advances in forensic science developed since Sept. 11, 2001, are likely to be of little help in this disaster, leaving many officials worrying over how many of the dead will remain nameless, and for how long.

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