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Autopsy done on last Trade Center bombing victim

By
WILLIAM M. REILLY

NEW YORK -- The city medical examiner Tuesday said Wilfredo Mercado, whose frozen body was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center bombing, died from blows to the head and body, apparently caused by flying chunks of concrete.

Port Authority police and construction workers removing debris from the enormous crater caused by the deadly Feb. 26 explosion discovered the intact body Monday afternoon, buried under debris, still seated in a chair and wearing a white apron.

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The discovery ended his family's agonizing 17-day vigil.

The coroner positively identified the 37-year-old restaurant supplier shortly after his body was discovered, and after conducting an autopsy Tuesday, a spokeswoman said his death was caused by 'blunt impact to the head and torso.'

Mercado also suffered several broken bones and lacerations, the spokeswoman said.

A receiving manager for Windows on the World restaurant, on the 107th floor of one of the twin towers, Mercado was last seen unloading supplies on the parking garage where the explosion occurred. He was the last person believed buried in the debris.

Five others died and more than 1,000 were injured in the bombing.

The Peruvian-born Mercado lived in the East New York section of Brooklyn with his wife, Olga, and two young daughters, Yvette and Heidi, and had worked for the restaurant for 12 years. His father had been a baker at the World Trade Center's bake shop kitchen.

Johannes Trump, manager of Windows on the World, called Mercado 'a loyal and valuable employee, highly esteemed by his co-workers.'

'We are grateful that Wilfredo has been found and thankful for all those who assisted in the search,' said Olga Mercado in a statement. 'We ask the whole city to pray for him and ask for some privacy to mourn his loss.'

Eugene Fasullo, chief engineer for the Port Authority, which operates the World Trade Center, said Mercado was the last person missing since the blast.

'There's no reason to believe that there are any other victims,' he said.

A powerful bomb in a rented van exploded in an underground parking lot, blowing out four floors of the garage and creating an enormous crater in the center's foundation.

Fasullo said since Mercado's body has been recovered, workers can go in with jackhammers to begin removing slabs of concrete draped over several 20-foot high air conditioning units, some of the biggest in the country.

The Port Authority has said it needs to restore the air conditioning, especially to the upper floors, before the weather warms up.

Monday, Cahill said the Port Authority still hoped to slowly move tenants back into the twin towers by April 1.

Two men have been arrested and charged in the bombing, while a third man was charged with assaulting FBI agents conducting a search as part of the investigation.

Mohammed Salameh, a Palestinian who allegedly rented the van used to transport the bomb to the parking garage, was the first suspect arrested. The second was his close friend, Nidal Ayyad, a chemical engineer who allegedly helped build the explosive.

A third man, Ibrahim Elgabrowny, was arrested on charges he assaulted two FBI agents who were raiding his Brooklyn apartment -- at the same address used by Salameh.

Authorities were seeking three additional suspects in the bombing, one reportedly an Egyptian-born Brooklyn cabdriver linked to El Sayyid Nossair, the Egyptian-born Muslim acquited of killing militant Rabbi Meir Kahane but convicted of lesser charges.

Nossair, who is Elgabrowny's cousin, is currently in a state prison in Attica, N.Y.

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