Cave-in halts dig for bodies

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The Independent Online
Oklahoma City (Reuter) - Crews digging through the bombed federal building were yesterday forced to abandon the search for scores of bodies in an area dubbed "the Pit" when tons of concrete began caving in on them.

Work was halted when debris rained down on about 40 firefighters and volunteers. They were not expected to return until heavy equipment was brought in to shore up a large slab of concrete dangling from above, officials said.

The FBI says it is racing to capture a second suspect in the bombing before he strikes again and President Bill Clinton yesterday urged Congress to pass new anti-terrorism laws.

Mr Clinton said Congress must shun political quibbling and strengthen federal powers against terrorism. "We must not dawdle or delay ... The American people want us to stop terrorism. They want us to put away anyone involved," he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that authorities now believe that four or five people were involved in the blast. It said they were investigating a father-and-son team in the Midwest in connection with supplying explosives for the bomb. With one man, Timothy McVeigh, in custody, the FBI has said only that it is hunting a dark-haired, tattooed suspect.

The "Pit" is where searchers expect to uncover the bodies of many of the nearly 100 people, including four babies, still missing after last week's truck-bomb blast. The area contains the remains of the government building's second floor, which housed a day-care nursery and a busy social security office. The death toll stood yesterday at 110.

After abandoning the "Pit", rescue workers were redeployed to other areas while officials decided how to stabilise the building. John Hansen, assistant fire chief, said engineers were assessing how to shore it up.

Mr McVeigh, 27, has been ordered to be held without bail at El Reno federal prison near Oklahoma City, while legal processes continue towards his indictment and trial.