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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Wait goes on for relatives and friends
Rescue teams are searching the rubble in New York
The rescue operation continues in the rubble
Friends and relatives of Britons missing following the terrorist attacks in the United States are anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones.

More than 24 hours after the four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field near Pittsburgh, rescue work continues.

No news is good news but I just want to hear decisively that they are ok

Tom Lauten
Downing Street said on Wednesday that the British death toll in the World Trade Center attacks could run into hundreds.

The estimate is based on the "massive" number of calls to Scotland Yard's Casualty Bureau.

In the UK the wait goes on for friends and families of those still unaccounted for.

Tom Lauten, of Combe Martin, Devon, who used to live and work in New York, was able to contact his parents who live north of the city as the full horror of the attacks became clearer on Wednesday afternoon.

But Mr Lauten told BBC News Online he was still waiting to hear about the whereabouts of his niece and nephew, Devon and Oregon Hayes, who he believed may have been due to fly from the east to the west coast this week.

He said: "No news is good news but I just want to hear decisively that they are ok.

"It was surreal listening to the radio and watching the internet. It was like a movie. I just couldn't believe what was happening."


He said his thoughts began to race about friends in the States and in the UK with relatives or friends who may be affected by the tragedy.

World Trade Centre on fire
The World Trade Center crumbled after the attacks
"It makes you realise how isolated time and country makes you," he said.

But he said the impact of the attacks would go much further than those who had directly lost loved ones.

"People don't take into account the psychological effect in terms of the wider fear and anxiety felt by people," he said.

Mr Lauten said New Yorkers were definitely displaying a Blitz spirit in helping one another to come to terms with the unimaginable.

Missing delegates

London-based financial information company Risk Waters said it had been unable to establish the whereabouts of any of the attendees at a conference it was holding on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center when the attacks were launched.

The company has issued a helpline number for relatives seeking information - 020 7484 9815.

A British consulate spokesman said they had inquiries they were following up.

"We have no indication of the likely number of British casualties," he said.

British officials are working with emergency services in New York and Washington to help them contact relatives of the dead and injured.

Worried friends and relatives can phone a special telephone helpline on 0207 008 0000.

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"As allies to America, the UK is not immune to risk"

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See also:

12 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair warns of British victims
12 Sep 01 | UK
UK on high security alert
12 Sep 01 | Business
Sombre mood in the City
11 Sep 01 | Scotland
Rescuers on US stand-by
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair condemns terrorist 'evil'
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's statement in full
11 Sep 01 | UK
UK buildings evacuated
11 Sep 01 | Americas
Could the planes have been stopped?
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