JERUSALEM – Remains of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon have been found among the wreckage of the space shuttle Columbia and will be brought to Israel for burial, the Israeli army said Wednesday.
NASA officials informed Israeli military representatives that the body of Ramon had been identified, the army said in a statement.
"This is a relief to all of us, especially the family," said Brig. Gen. Rani Falk, an Israeli air force attache in Washington. "NASA informed us officially that Ilan Ramon, may his name be blessed, was identified, and we can bring him for burial in Israel in the coming days."
Ramon's body was one of four sets of remains that have been positively identified, Israel Radio reported. The DNA and jaw bone of Ramon's body were checked to ensure that they were indeed his, the radio said.
Israel had sent four ultra-Orthodox specialists to aid NASA in searching for the remains of the astronauts, which were scattered near the Texas-Louisiana state line. According to Jewish law, all parts of a Jewish person must be buried. If the body is not found, a funeral is not possible.
More human remains were found Tuesday, and a resident of Vernon Parish, La., found fabric bearing a blue Star of David on a silver background, according to the local sheriff. Israeli newspapers reported Wednesday that the cloth was from an Israeli air force flag that Ramon had taken with him.