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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 04:32 GMT 05:32 UK
Blair calls emergency cabinet meeting
New York devastation
Relatives and friends have flooded a UK helpline
Prime Minister Tony Blair has called an emergency cabinet meeting for Thursday morning amid fears hundreds of Britons have lost their lives in the US terror attacks.

Downing Street said there had been a a "massive" number of calls to Scotland Yard's casualty bureau, which is being run on behalf of the Foreign Office.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said on Wednesday night: "It is difficult to predict with any certainty but what is becoming clear is that the death toll of British citizens is likely to run into the hundreds."

Emergency number
For Britons worried about friends and relatives in the US: 020 7008 0000
Security measures, including a ban on flights over central London, remain in place across the UK after the atrocities in New York and Washington.

They will be reviewed again at a meeting of the government's civil contingencies committe (CCC) ahead of the full cabinet meeting.

Parliament is being recalled on Friday - the same day as an EU-wide day of mourning.

Condolence books have been started in most major cities and towns around the UK and bunches of flowers from well-wishers are building outside the US embassy in London.

Royal tribute

In an unprecedented move the US National Anthem will be played during a special changing of the guard ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace at 1130BST on Thursday.

The Queen is cutting short her holiday in Balmoral to attend a special memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral on Friday.

Security steps
Airports on alert
All private planes grounded
No flights over central London
Police across UK on alert
Defence facilities across world on alert
Business and finance institutions advised on extra measures
Co-operating with US, EU and other allies on security issues

On Wednesday, Prince Charles said the victims and their families were in his prayers, recalling his own feelings when his uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed by the IRA.

MPs will return to Westminster on Friday morning to hear a statement from Mr Blair and to debate the implications of the atrocities.

Individual stories have started to emerge of the anguished wait this side of the Atlantic for news of friends and relatives.

Anxious wait

In one case a young British banker who worked in the World Trade Center rang his parents after the first plane hit.

Derek Sword, 29, called his family in Dundee to say he was on the 89th floor of the other tower and was unharmed.

But then his skyscraper was struck by the second hijacked aircraft and he has not been heard of since.

Prince Charles signs a book of condolence at the US embassy in London
Prince Charles signs a book of condolence
Meanwhile friends, colleagues and families of workers from London-based publishing company Risk Waters also wait fearfully for news.

They said they 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.

  • Action movie Swordfish - in which a city block is destroyed by a bomb - has been withdrawn from cinemas across the UK.

    The film, starring John Travolta and Vinnie Jones, had been showing in more than 100 cinemas around Britain.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair
    "The world now knows the full evil and capability of international terrorism"
    The BBC's Niall Dickson
    "Britons and Americans together sharing the pain"
    The BBC's Mark Mardell
    "Mr Blair would back hard, stern action"
    See also:

    12 Sep 01 | Americas
    Nato backs US
    12 Sep 01 | Business
    UK firms assess human costs
    12 Sep 01 | UK Politics
    Spotlight on 'Special Relationship'
    12 Sep 01 | Scotland
    Missing son phoned from skyscraper
    12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
    Survivors' family die in tragic twist
    12 Sep 01 | UK
    UK on high security alert
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