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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Thousands express online condolences
Children sign book of condolence
Online book will eventually sit alongside one in church
Thousands of surfers have left messages at an online book of condolence for people wishing to express sympathy to the families of murdered British schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

The website - www.sohamtragedy.org.uk - has been set up by Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire Police to give members of the public who have followed the tragic events in Soham an outlet for their feelings.

More than 90,000 messages had been sent from around the world by Thursday.


We hope and pray that in future you will know no more sorrow

Message from Jerusalem
Tributes have come from as far away as Australia, Israel and Zimbabwe.

Other messages were from Iceland, Bahrain, Dubai, Brazil, the US, India - and also one from an oil rig in the North Sea.

Once completed, the comments will be transcribed into a permanent memorial to the two children to sit alongside the book of condolence in the local church.

One boy's message read: "I'm a 13-year-old boy from Palestine, I heard the dreadful news of the two girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

"I've been following the latest news every day, hoping that it would turn out well. I feel deeply sorry for them."

A man from Jerusalem said: "My wife and I were appalled to learn the news of your terrible loss. We hope and pray that in future you will know no more sorrow."

Visitors are invited to leave messages by name or anonymously although it is not possible to read previous comments.

Outlet for grief

Online books of condolence have become a popular way for people to express grief after traumatic events.

One set up shortly after the death of the Queen Mother attracted thousands of visitors.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said such a book provided an unobtrusive way for people outside of Soham to express sympathy with the community.

A message on the site reads: "The authorities of Cambridgeshire, England, have been both touched and overwhelmed with the messages from all over the world sent to the community of Soham. It means a great deal to our community. "

The BBC's website for Cambridgeshire also has an online book of condolence.

Many of the messages express shock and outrage at the events and offer heartfelt support to the parents of the girls.

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