Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 19, 2023

Human remains, aircraft debris recovered from 9/11 crash sites

If Your Time is short

  • Human remains and aircraft debris were recovered from both 9/11 sites.

Terrorists hijacked four U.S. flights on Sept. 11, 2001, piloting two of the planes into the World Trade Center towers and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into an empty Pennsylvania field after its passengers fought back. 

A recent Instagram post suggests the attacks were an inside job, one of several conspiracy theories about that day. 

"Why was no aircraft wreckage or human remains found at the Pentagon or in the field in Pennsylvania?" the July 18 post asks.

But that's wrong. This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Not only is there footage from Pentagon security cameras showing American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the building, but the FBI also released images of aircraft debris. We’ve previously fact-checked a claim that no plane debris was found there, and we rated it Pants on Fire.

Featured Fact-check

Among the nearly 3,000 people who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks, 184 people were killed as a result of the Pentagon crash. News outlets started reporting on the recovery of bodies there soon after the attack. On Sept. 13, 2001, for example, Wired reported that 190 bodies had so far been found and about 70 had been "removed from the buckled section of the Pentagon as search and rescue workers toiled around the clock with little hope of finding more survivors."

Aircraft debris from United Airlines Flight 93 was likewise found in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Wallace Miller, the former coroner for Somerset County, where Shanksville is located, has said that only 8% of the human remains were ever recovered because the plane exploded when it crashed at 570 miles per hour. 

"Everything vaporized on impact," Miller said.

FBI photos of the crash site include airplane debris recovered from the scene.

We rate claims that no human remains or aircraft debris were found at the Pentagon or in Pennsylvania after the 9/11 attacks Pants on Fire!


Our Sources

Instagram post, July 18, 2023

Wired, Pentagon: 190 Bodies Found, Sept. 13, 2001

The Washington Post, Remains Unidentified For 5 Pentagon Victims, Nov. 21, 2001

YouTube, Security video of plane hitting Pentagon released, adds, S'bite from Judicial Watch, May 17, 2006

FBI, 9/11 Attacks and Investigation Images, visited July 19, 2023

PolitiFact, Plane debris was found at Pentagon after 9/11, Sept. 14, 2022

The New York Times, At a 9/11 Site, a ‘Last Funeral,’ Sept. 9, 2011

National Park Service, FBI Evidence Photographs of the Crash Site - US v. Moussauoi, visited July 19, 2023

The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004

The Miller Center, THE SEPTEMBER 11 TERRORIST ATTACKS, visited July 19, 2023

PolitiFact, How the 9/11 attacks helped shape the modern misinformation, conspiracy theory industry, Sept. 9, 2021


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Human remains, aircraft debris recovered from 9/11 crash sites

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up