NASA says some "Iraq" photos are shuttle victims 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several dozen photographs of coffins recently identified by news organizations as remains of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq are really images from the space shuttle Columbia explosion last year, U.S. space officials said on Friday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said up to 73 images posted on a Web site, www.thememoryhole.org, that media organizations used were mistakenly identified as photos of casualties from Iraq.

"Many news organizations across the country are mistakenly identifying the flag-draped caskets of the space shuttle Columbia's crew as those of war casualties from Iraq," NASA said.

Earlier this month the U.S. Air Force released more than 300 photographs on the Internet site showing the remains of U.S. service members arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The decision to release the images, which depict coffins draped with American flags, were in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

A NASA spokesman, Bob Jacobs, said newspapers, news channels and wire services have mistakenly identified the photographs.

"Editors are being asked to confirm that the images used in news reports are in fact those of American casualties and not those of the NASA astronauts who were killed Feb. 1, 2003, in the Columbia tragedy," NASA said.

The Web site was no longer accessible.


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