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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 22:05 GMT
Eighteen Britons killed by quake
Alison Littlewood from Dore, Sheffield, is hugged by her father Peter Noble at Manchester Airport
Relief as relatives meet Britons returning from the region
Eighteen Britons have died and thousands more are stranded in south and east Asia after a huge earthquake sent massive waves across the region.

Twelve died in Thailand, three in Sri Lanka and three in the Maldives, said the Foreign Office. They have not been named, as relatives are being informed.

BBC correspondent Paul Adams warned there was "every likelihood that figure would rise".

More than 50,000 people are reported dead across the region altogether.

A planeload of supplies from the UK government, including plastic sheeting and tents, arrived in Sri Lanka overnight on Monday.

Further emergency aid supplies worth 100,000 are due to be flown to Asia from the UK as part of a massive humanitarian relief effort.

UK HELPLINES
0207 008 0000 - for information on friends and relatives
0870 6060290 - for flight details or travel advice
0870 60 60 900 - for donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee on behalf of British aid agencies

An Oxfam charter plane carrying 27 tonnes of equipment, including apparatus to set up emergency drinking water systems for homeless families, will fly to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

The British Red Cross is also due to send out aid planes to the region.

About 10,000 Britons are estimated to have been holidaying in the southern Asian region during this peak season.

David Fall, the British ambassador in Thailand, told BBC News one of the problems was that so many people had their belongings, such as passports and identification washed away, it has been very difficult to identify the dead.

Returning flights

One of the granddaughters of British actor and film director Richard Attenborough was among the victims in the Thai resort of Phuket.

Lucy, 14, died at the scene, and her sister Alice, 17, is being treated in hospital.

Lord Attenborough's daughter Jane and her mother-in-law are also missing.

I think this is going to be with us for a long time
Nick Young
British Red Cross chief executive

Elsewhere, the brother of a conservationist who apparently perished in the Asian disaster has paid tribute to a "beautiful sister".

Writing on the BBC News website, Chris Jones, from Windsor in Berkshire, said his 31-year-old sister Lisa died when the tsunami hit the tiny Koh Phra Thong island in Thailand.

He said the island had been evacuated but that her body was still there and he had heard nothing from the Foreign Office.

Flights have begun bringing British survivors back to London and Manchester from the region.

Speaking at Manchester Airport on Tuesday morning, June White, 44, said she and her family had to hide inside a wardrobe in their over-water bungalow in Male in the Maldives until the water subsided.

"We were just in a panic, it was pandemonium for a few hours," she said.

'Horror film'

At London Gatwick Airport, Louise Davies, 34, from Lincolnshire, told of the devastation in Galle, Sri Lanka.

"We saw local people pulling their dead loved ones from the rubble," she said.

"These people desperately need help."

Mick Byrne, 42, from Brighton, had been staying in Phuket with his wife and daughter.

"There were bodies floating in and out of the sea. It was like a holocaust, like something out of a horror film, it was absolutely terrible," he said at London Heathrow airport.

Several officials from the Department for International Development are in the region determining what kind of help is most urgently needed.

Hotlines

The Foreign Office has set up a phone number - 0207 008 0000 - for those worried about friends and relatives.

A spokesman urged people to only call that number for information about loved ones only, rather than for flight information or travel advice.

Tourists cleaning up
Tourists are helping clear up Phuket after the devastating tsunamis
The Foreign Office has advised against any travel to the Maldives and to the affected parts of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

It said further advice can be found on its website or by calling 0870 6060290, while flight details should be obtained from airports or travel operators.

The Phuket hospital has a website listing the names of people it is treating, and links to lists of those being treated elsewhere in Thailand.

According to the website, 96 Britons are being treated, with more than 60 in emergency care.

In Sri Lanka, a crisis centre has been set up to handle calls from concerned relatives and can be reached on 00 94 11 437 061 and 00 94 11 474 0220. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sltourism@yahoo.com.

A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in New Delhi, India, said no Britons had been reported hurt in that country.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella body covering British aid agencies, is setting up an appeal for anyone who would like to donate money.

To contact one of its 600 phone lines call 0870 60 60 900.


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
Distressed Britons tell how they escaped



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