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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 22:57 GMT
Britain offers condolences to US
Security was tightened at Heathrow
Armed police patrol Heathrow Airport after the crash
The British prime minister and other senior UK officials have offered their sympathy to those affected by the New York plane crash.

Prime Minister Tony Blair spent 25 minutes on the telephone to President George Bush to offer his condolences.

Meanwhile there has been some disruption to transatlantic travel as New York airports were shut and some flights which had already left the UK were diverted or recalled.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair rang George Bush to express condolences
Mr Blair received the news of the crash as he was having lunch with his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Downing Street.

"The shock around the table was palpable," the prime minister's official spokesman said.

He added: "The main purpose of the call was to convey this country's condolences to the president and to the people of New York and America on the air crash today."

Re-opening wounds

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who was in New York attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly, said: "Like everyone in New York, I was profoundly shocked when I heard the news.

"Our first thoughts are for those who have perished and for their loved ones who have to bear the news.


This further disaster will have re-opened the wounds of 11 September

Jack Straw
"But our hearts must also go out to all New Yorkers, for whom - whatever the cause - this further disaster will have re-opened the wounds of 11 September."

Mr Straw expressed relief that the tragedy did not appear to be the work of terrorists.

"Thank the Lord, as we think, it is not another terrorist outrage but it is just a terrible accident," he told BBC News 24.

"That is no comfort for the immediate victims, nor for their family loved ones, but it is reassuring particularly for New Yorkers and those on this side of America who went through the deep trauma of the 11 September and I think were fearing they were going to go through another, but certainly worse trauma, again."

Prayers

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, also expressed his sorrow at the tragedy.

He said: "Our hearts go out to the people of America as, once again, they grieve.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The archbishop delayed his presidential address to the Church of England's General Synod to break the news to members and lead them in silence and prayer.
George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury
George Carey expressed his regrets

Meanwhile, transatlantic flights leaving the UK were expected to return to normal on Tuesday.

American Airlines and British Airways were forced to divert and delay some flights on Monday following the closure of New York airports.

British Airways diverted three flights to Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal and recalled another plane soon after it left the UK bound for Newark Airport in New York.

But a BA Concorde flight from Heathrow landed safely at Kennedy airport moments after the crash.

Nervous

A BA spokeswoman said: "We are expecting all of our flights to operate as normal on Tuesday.

"Only three services were diverted today and we are not expecting any delays."

Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports said passengers due to travel to America on Tuesday did not have to check in any earlier than normal, but advised people to ring the airline or tour operator before leaving home.

As news of the crash reached passengers at Heathrow Airport on Monday, they told the BBC they were more nervous about flying to the States but determined to press ahead.


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