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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Donations flood in to terror victims fund
Rescuers scour the wreckage in New York
'Tragedy has touched the hearts of the British people'
A charity appeal set up to give Britons the chance to help the victims of last week's terror attacks in the US has been inundated with donations.

The World Trade Centre Disaster Fund began accepting donations on Tuesday after the Charities Commission rushed through approval in a matter of hours.

A spokesman for the appeal said: "We received more than 300 calls in the first three hours and the phone has not stopped ringing since.

"It's not possible to put a figure on the total but certainly a very considerable sum has already been raised.

"I think the response shows how the tragedy has touched the hearts of the British people."


It is the very least that we can do to show our solidarity

Lord Levene

Money raised by the fund will go towards supporting the families, both British and American, of those killed and injured in the attacks.

It is estimated the death toll includes 250 Britons. Over 5,000 people are still missing.

The fund is already backed by 19 financial firms in the UK, who have pledged to match their employees' donations pound for pound.

The fund was originally intended as an appeal for City workers to help their colleagues in New York.

But when it emerged there was no main fund for Britons to donate to, the appeal quickly became Britain's official charity appeal.

The fund's chairman of trustees, Lord Levene, who is vice-chairman of Deutsche Bank and a former Lord Mayor of London, said the fund was "the very least" Britain could do to show solidarity with the US.

'Compassionate'

"Sadly it would appear that there were many British victims, which brings the reality even closer to home," he added.

Relatives of UK victims of the terror attacks are being offered financial help from the government to visit New York and Washington.

Where it appears a British national had been killed, the government is arranging for two close family members to fly out.

Airlines are aiming to give priority, on compassionate grounds, to those trying to get back to the US to find out about loved ones.

Donations to The World Trade Centre Disaster Fund can be made via the appeal's credit card hotline on 01622 778 787, at the fund's website, www.wtcfund.org.uk, or over the counter at banks and building societies.

Fund spokesman Simon Culhane told BBC News Online the website had been put up on Monday, but may not be visible across all browsers until later on Tuesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Bilton
"This is a global tragedy"
Fund's chairman of trustees, Lord Levene
"I think we are in for a long ride"

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See also:

17 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's balancing act
17 Sep 01 | Business
Job fears at UK airlines
17 Sep 01 | Business
UK airlines 'need government aid'
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