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Progress made in grave excavations

The remains of 50 people are in graves at a former reform school in Florida.

European Pressphoto Agency

The remains of 50 people are in graves at a former reform school in Florida.

MARIANNA, Fla. — On the second day of an excavation project, University of South Florida researchers worked Sunday on two graves at a former reform school in the Florida Panhandle where students say they were abused decades ago.

The researchers continued the slow, painstaking process of unearthing remains in the hopes of identifying those buried at the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School in the Panhandle. The digging and work will go on through Tuesday.

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‘‘We are making really good progress,’’ Erin Kimmerle, the USF anthropologist leading the excavation, said Sunday. Preservation of the remains in the first coffin were good, she said. Cranial and teeth fragments were found, along with coffin hardware such as nails and handles.

A second coffin found deeper underground was to be opened later, Kimmerle said.

The remains of about 50 people are in the graves, she said. Some are marked with a plain, white steel cross, and others have no markings.

Researchers also hope to learn how the boys died at the school, which opened in 1900 and shut down two years ago for budgetary reasons.

Former inmates at the reform school have detailed horrific beatings. A group of survivors who call themselves the ‘‘White House Boys’’ called for an investigation into the graves five years ago.

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