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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Asian casualties feared in New York
Twin towers
Many Asian businesses were based in the twin towers
Asian leaders have expressed grave concern for the safety of nationals in New York after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Many Asian companies have offices in the complex and the twin towers, which collapsed on Tuesday after being hit by two hijacked planes, is a popular tourist destination.

Some companies have reported many of their staff are safe but it could take days for final casualties to be known, especially among foreign visitors.

Man lays flowers outside US embassy in Tokyo
Casualties are at the forefront of people's minds Tokyo
Japanese firms had a big presence in the centre but the majority of their employees appear to have been evacuated safely.

The Industrial Bank of Japan and the Dai-Ichi-Kangyo Bank reported about 350 staff left the buildings before they collapsed.

But the Fuji Bank and Nishi-Nippon Bank each said they had not been able to contact several of their employees. The Chugoku Bank said it was unable to contact its branch which employed 10 people.

Chinese fears

The China Daily reported at least one Chinese national injured in the attack but the fate of about 30 others was unknown.

Guard outside US embassy Beijing
Security has been stepped up outside Beijing's US embassy
China's Foreign Trade Ministry said there were 14 Chinese companies with offices in the building.

President Jiang Zemin expressed "grave concern" for the safety of tens of thousands of Chinese in the United States, the China Daily reported.

A Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said on Wednesday its nationals had "largely been evacuated safely".

Jakarta Post reader
The news has affected people throughout the region
The Jakarta Post reported Indonesia's mission to the United Nations in New York is checking on the safety of its nationals.

A spokesman said so far no Indonesian had been reported killed or injured. But, he said, the mission was having difficulties checking because most offices had been evacuated and telephone communications disrupted.

No clear picture

Some of the gloomiest reports however have come from the Australian and New Zealand authorities.

Both nations have a strong presence in New York's business community - New Zealand estimates about 300 of its nationals live and work there but there could be 10 times that many tourists in the city.

Sydney stock exchange
Australian businessmen watched events unfold from Sydney's stock exchange
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister told Radio New Zealand: "We haven't been able to get a clear picture of what, if any, casualties that New Zealanders have sustained."

He said it could take days to identify casualties because the recovery of bodies would be extraordinarily difficult.

Australian nationals have been contacting consular officials but a spokesman in New York said most of them were travellers, not business people.

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