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Last Updated: Friday, 8 October, 2004, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Britons caught up in Egypt blast
Ambulance staff treat a blast victim near the Taba Hilton
More than 120 people were injured and at least 21 killed in the blasts
Several Britons have been caught up in an explosion at a hotel in Egypt which killed at least 19 people.

The Foreign Office had earlier said two Britons were injured, but confirmed later that they were not UK citizens.

The blast happened on Thursday night at the Hilton Taba, near the Israeli border. Blasts in Nuweiba, 60km further south, killed two more people.

Charlie Meade, a British tourist who was staying at the Hilton, said it must have been a massive bomb.

"I was in the main restaurant in the hotel, in the Hilton, and then the windows blew out - actually they blew in," he said.

"I was very lucky, I wasn't injured at all, but my partner had quite a lot of serious cuts from flying glass."

FOREIGN OFFICE HELPLINE
Call 020 7008 0000 for information on friends and relatives in Egypt

Israeli officials said a vehicle loaded with explosives had blown up after ramming the hotel.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw offered his sympathy to the victims' families, and said British officials were working closely with the Egyptian and Israeli authorities.

"I was shocked to hear of the terrible blasts in Taba and the Nuweiba area of Egypt last night which have killed and injured so many," he said.

"I offer my sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have died and to those who have been injured."

Map of blasts
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "It so happens that staff from our embassy in Cairo were in the area. They have gone to the scene to offer consular assistance."

Catherine Hurd, a British consular official who was on holiday with her family at the Hilton, was in her room when the explosion happened.

"I suddenly felt this incredible shudder and incredible dust and everything," she said.

"The ceiling didn't come down but the whole room was disarranged and everybody was screaming."

Nineteen UK clients of Longwood Holidays were staying at the Hilton when the blast happened.

Longwood Holiday managing director Rafi Caplin said they had since been taken to three hotels at the Taba Heights resort, about 20 minutes from the blast site.

No matter what you believe, nothing but nothing justifies suicide bombings
Sir Menzies Campbell
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman

"The Hyatt Regency manager has told me that the Britons, although obviously shaken up, are fine and keen to continue their holiday," he said.

The company had yet to make a decision about Monday' scheduled flights from Gatwick and Manchester to Taba.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Hilton International said: "We are deeply shocked by this serious incident which occurred in the Hilton Taba this evening.

"Our sincere condolences go to the family and friends of those who have been killed and injured as a result."

The spokesman said Hilton International managed the hotel, which was Egyptian owned.

'Disgraceful action'

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "If, as appears to be the case, this is the result of terrorism, it is a disgraceful action targeting innocent holidaymakers.

"No matter what you believe, nothing but nothing justifies suicide bombings which cause loss of life."

Taba is the main crossing point between Israel and Egypt, and a major gateway for thousands of Israelis going on holiday to resorts and hotels on the Red Sea.

Last month, the Israeli government urged its citizens not to visit Egypt, saying there had been a threat to tourists there.

Current UK Foreign Office travel advice for Egypt warns of the risk of terror attacks in the country.


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