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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Blair condemns terrorist 'evil'
Tony Blair
Blair offered sympathy to Americans
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken of his "shock and outrage" at the terrorist attacks in the US.

Britain has also offered the United States "whatever help" necessary to track down the perpetrators.

It's an act of war against civilisation

William Hague
As evacuations were carried out across the City of London - including the stock exchange where the FTSE 100 shares index plunged nearly 6% - states of alert were raised at UK government and state buildings in Britain and abroad.

An emergency number for Britons worried about friends and relatives has also been issued: 020 7008 0000.

The Queen, sending a message of sympathy to President Bush, expressed her "growing disbelief and total shock".

Travel problems

There were widespread travel problems as American airspace was effectively closed, forcing widespread cancellations and some trans-Atlantic flights to turn back to the UK.

Mr Blair cancelled his planned speech to the TUC conference and instead made a sombre statement condemning the "terrible, shocking" events.

The prime minister headed back to London to chair a meeting of the Cabinet's emergency "Cobra" committee.

Emergency number
For Britons worried about friends and relatives in the US: 020 7008 0000
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were also at the security discussions in Downing Street which ended shortly before 1800.

His voice cracking with emotion, a clearly shocked Mr Blair had earlier told TUC delegates: "I'm afraid we can only imagine the terror and the carnage there, and the many, many innocent people that will have lost their lives.

"I know that you would want to join me in sending the deepest condolences to President Bush and to the American people on behalf of the British people at these terrible events."

He went on: "This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today.

"It is perpetuated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life and we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together to fight it together and eradicate this evil completely from our world."

'Acts of evil'

He went on to tell delegates he hoped they would understand he would not be delivering his planned speech and would be returning to London immediately.

Speaking at the Foreign Office on Tuesday afternoon Mr Straw said the scenes from America were "acts of evil and horror beyond the imagination of any of us".

He said he had passed condolences onto Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State.

"I have also told the US government that we stand ready to give whatever help we can to assist in tracking down the perpetrators behind this evil and ensuring that they are brought to justice."

British citizens are being advised to take great care if they are living abroad in sensitive areas, to stay in their compounds, to avoid obvious areas of potential risk and to have great care for their safety.

'Sickening outrages'

Outgoing Conservative leader William Hague, comparing the attacks to the Second World War strike on Pearl Harbor, said: "Whoever has committed these atrocities has committed a monstrous act of war against the civilised world.

"Britain must, and I am sure will, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States of America and peaceful nations across the world in deploying every possible resource to bring to justice the people responsible, and make sure terrorism never prevails."

He announced that in the contest to find his successor as Tory leader the counting of votes and result, due on Wednesday, would be postponed 24 hours as a mark of respect.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "We offer our profound sympathies to the US public and to the families of the countless numbers that must have been killed and injured in this blatant set of attacks.

"The international democratic community must come together as never before to see down the forces of sheer evil that perpetrate such crimes."

See also:

11 Sep 01 | UK
UK buildings evacuated
11 Sep 01 | Americas
Could the planes have been stopped?
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's statement in full
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