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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Flight aid for attack victims' relatives
Queues of passengers at Heathrow
Queues of stranded passengers are beginning to ease
Relatives of UK victims of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center will receive financial help from the government to visit New York.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said where it appeared a British national had been killed, the government would arrange for two close family members to go to New York.

Transatlantic flights from airports around the UK are beginning to get back to normal levels after the disruption caused by the attacks in the US.

And regulations banning low-level flights over central London have also been lifted allowing aircraft using Heathrow and London City airports to resume their normal flight paths.


Because of our close contact with the families, we know, and understand, how keen many of the families are to get to New York

Jack Straw
In spite of the resumption of flights many passengers are still waiting to travel.

Airlines are aiming to give priority, on compassionate grounds, to those trying to get back to the States to find out about loved ones caught up in the tragic events in New York and Washington.

Reimburse 500

Mr Straw said the government would either organise tickets for the families directly with airlines or reimburse them to the cost of 500.

The government is also making arrangements for special flights to the US, should the demand warrant it.

Mr Straw said it would pay for travel insurance and three nights' accommodation in New York for two family members, and, where families live a long way from the airport, for a night's hotel accommodation in the UK.

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Government will organise tickets
Police family liaison officers are already in contact with families affected.

Mr Straw said: "Because of our close contact with the families, we know, and understand, how keen many of the families are to get to New York.

"We are moving as fast as we can to make this happen."

A co-ordinating team of 30 consular staff, 20 British police officers and 10 counsellors is being deployed in New York.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who has been given the task of co-ordinating arrangements for families, said the government had a responsibility to do all it could to help relatives.


The whole aim of this is to try to relieve those families of this kind of practical organisation which is a further source of stress at an unbearable time like this

Tessa Jowell
"The whole aim of this is to try to relieve those families of this kind of practical organisation which is a further source of stress at an unbearable time like this."

A spokeswoman at Heathrow airport said American Airlines and United Airlines were running a near normal service.

British Airways is running 27 US flights on Sunday and its four usual flights to Canada.

BA is now operating 70% of its usual service from Heathrow and more than 80% from Gatwick.

Virgin Atlantic is also now running a near normal transatlantic service while British Midland resumed flights to Chicago and Washington from Manchester Airport on Saturday.

Foreign Office warning

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has ordered Britons to evacuate border areas of Pakistan, which neighbours Afghanistan, where Osama Bin Laden is based.

It said British citizens should not travel to the country unless they had "compelling reasons" to do so.

Passengers at UK airports face a longer than normal wait to check in because of extra security measures.

There are also tighter than normal restrictions on items which can be carried in hand luggage with even small sharp objects such as razors and nail scissors being banned from the aircraft cabin.

The list includes toy or replica guns (plastic or metal), as well as household cutlery and knives with blades of any length.

Also banned are letter openers, tradesmen's tools, darts, knitting needles and sports goods such as rackets, cricket bats and golf clubs.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Joe Campbell
"Those who do brave queues... will get help towards their travelling expenses"
The BBC's Richard Bilton
visits the parents of Graham Berkeley who was a passenger on one of the hijacked planes
See also:

15 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe reviews aircraft safety
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