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More Than 1,000 Shuttle Wreckage Sites Identified - 2003-02-02

At the Johnson Space Center in Houston, hundreds of well-wishers placed flags and mementos on a memorial for the seven astronauts who died Saturday as their space shuttle broke up above Texas. As people grieve in houses of worship, recovery workers are gathering evidence to learn what caused the tragedy.

Hundreds of people in eastern Texas and nearby Louisiana have reported discovering debris from the shuttle Columbia, from a large piece that splashed into a reservoir to tiny fragments of metal that crashed into fields and driveways. Police also confirm that human remains have been found.

Five hundred people are working on the recovery near the city of Nacogdoches in a part of eastern Texas covered by dense pine forests. Authorities have identified 1,500 wreckage sites in that region.

"It is going to be very difficult to find everything because of the terrain," said Wayne Holt, a judge in nearby San Augustine County. "I mean, this is a very hilly, very woodsy terrain with a lot of debris."

Flags are flying at half-staff over Texas, as they are throughout the country, to honor the six Americans and one Israeli astronaut who died in the shuttle disaster. In churches and houses of worship, the seven are being celebrated as heroes.

Newspapers around the United States have focused on the mishap. The Dallas Morning News was emblazoned with the headline "Tragedy Over Texas." The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said "Columbia is lost."

And people are asking how the tragedy happened. As recovery workers piece together pieces of the puzzle, three national inquiries are planned, including one by the space agency, NASA.