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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Heartbreaking work to list UK dead
Rescuers scour the wreckage in New York
Work to sift through the wreckage continues
Britain's ambassador to Washington has described how his staff have begun the "heartbreaking task" of listing the UK victims of Tuesday's terror attacks.

Sir Christopher Meyer said officials in both Washington and New York had been working night and day to comfort those who feared loved ones were missing, and to help British citizens left stranded by the attacks.

We have begun the heartbreaking work of listing so many British people who will now never go home

Sir Christopher Meyer
Writing in the News of the World, he confirmed estimates that put the number of British casualties in the hundreds.

"Since the first shock and grief on Tuesday morning ... we have worked round the clock," he said.

"We are talking to British families whose loved ones are missing in New York.

"And we have begun the heartbreaking work of listing so many British people who will now never go home."

Repatriation of bodies

The ambassador's department is helping UK survivors meet the cost of medical treatment, and is looking after people who are stranded without passports and money and cannot return home.

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw confirmed earlier this week that UK citizens injured in the attacks who did not have medical insurance to pay for their treatment would have their hospital costs paid by the British Government.

The government is also working on arrangements for the repatriation of bodies and transporting relatives of victims to the US, some of whom were given priority on transatlantic flights from the UK on Saturday.

Rescue efforts

The British consulate in New York is dealing with inquiries from relatives of Britons believed to have been caught up in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

British Consular General Tom Harris told BBC News: "The staff are having to deal with some very distressed people and that is not easy.

"But there's a determination by everybody to do whatever they can to help, whether it's Britons in need here in New York, or stranded because they can't get out, or British people around the world who are desperately anxious for news."

At the scene of the devastation in New York, rescuers with search dogs are continuing to pick their way through the ruins.

Only five people have been rescued alive since twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed.

So far, about 13,000 tons of wreckage has been removed from the site - a fraction of the Trade Center's original 1.25 million ton structure.

In New York and Washington, the first of what will be thousands of funerals took place on Saturday, each of them packed with mourners.

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