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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Pilgrimage to scene of devastation
Several workers congregate near the collapsed facade of World Trade Center Building 7
As many as 300 Britons may have died in the attacks
British families mourning relatives killed in the US terrorist attacks are due to arrive in New York. They will need all the support on offer to them, writes BBC News Online's Jon Duffy in Manhattan.

With transatlantic flights nearly back to normal, a trickle of British mourners has started to arrive in New York.

As many as 300 Britons may have died in the attack on the World Trade Center, a week ago today.

But only now are their grieving friends and relatives starting to make the pilgrimage to the scene of devastation.

For days, transatlantic flights were suspended as America closed its airspace to all commercial air travel, fearing further terrorist strikes.

The result was that concerned British families were left stranded in the UK.

Fireman looks up at the collapsed World Trade Center
No survivors have been pulled out for several days

But those that are now starting to make their way over are being offered the support of grief counsellors and British police officers trained to deal with especially sensitive situations.

It is a grim task ahead. Only a fraction of those listed as missing after the attack on the World Trade Center have been confirmed as dead.

The others are simply classified as missing, although with no survivors being pulled from the wreckage in several days it is highly unlikely that many will now be found alive.

Working through the British Consulate in New York, the British government has flown in 20 police family liaison officers from forces across England and Wales, to assist relatives.

The officers are specially trained to provide information and support to distressed victims.

Although none will have encountered anything on the scale of the World Trade Center disaster before, they have experience in dealing with emotionally charged victims of murder, kidnap and terrorist attacks.

Practical support

Their job will be to chaperone British families around the scene of the devastation and guide them in other matters such as providing DNA samples of their loved ones to the authorities, so bodies pulled out of the rubble can be identified.

"My officers will be there to provide practical support to ensure that the families will go home on the plane thinking that it was worth coming out,' said John Godsave, a leading member of the team who arrived in New York over the weekend.

The police group will be accompanied by a team of 10 counsellors whose job will be to offer emotional support.

Both teams will be based at the Millennium Hotel in Manhattan, where the British Consulate has block-booked 100 rooms for relatives.

The Foreign Office has agreed to pay the travel and accommodation costs of two family members of each victim. It will pay for travel insurance and three nights at the hotel.

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