human remains confirmed

According to local television and radio news reports, shuttle-related human remains have been confirmed in Jasper and San Augustine. "Two body parts were found" was all they had to say. UPDATE: here is an online report:

In Hemphill, near the Louisiana state line, hospital employee Mike Gibbs reported finding what appeared to be a charred torso, thigh bone and skull on a rural road near what appeared to be other debris. Billy Smith, an emergency coordinator for three East Texas counties, confirmed the find.

"I wouldn't want anybody seeing what I saw," Gibbs said. "It was pretty gruesome."

On a farm, also in Sabine County, two young boys found a charred human leg, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. "From the hip to the foot, it's all there, scorched from the fire," said their father, Bob White.

not to mention this, which is somehow symbolically sadder:

Debris found in San Augustine County about 140 miles northeast of Houston included a charred astronaut's patch and a flight helmet.

Trent Telenko has excellent updates of the news coverage, and Rand Simberg has detailed technical analysis of what could have caused the disaster. And SpaceFlightNow continues to have the most detailed coverage at their STS-107 Flight Status page.

Interestingly, Rand was taken to task by the esteemed Reverend Donald Sensing, who accused him of minimizing the human scale of the tragedy. Rand responds:

with all due respect, I disagree, and that kind of attitude is exactly why the manned space program has been such a disaster for so long. As long as we elevate the humans over the hardware, and emotions over rational discussion, we will never make significant progress in this frontier.

People die on frontiers, (and even in non-frontiers--more died in traffic accidents in the past twenty-four hours than have died in space since we first started going there) and if we can't accept that, then we have no damned business being there.

Or, to paraphrase Tom Hanks in the movie, A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everybody would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

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