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Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 14:24 GMT
Moscow siege Britons 'well'
Tribute in Moscow
The death toll of the hostage crisis has risen
A British family caught in the Russian theatre hostage crisis is in "very good condition", according to the British ambassador to Moscow.

Peter and Sidica Low have been reunited with their son Richard, 20, after he was discharged from hospital.

The ambassador, Sir Roderic Lyne, said the family was safe and well and staying in the embassy after their ordeal.

They had been among over 700 people attending the Russian musical Nord-Ost on Wednesday when the theatre was stormed by more than 50 armed Chechen rebels.


We are very grateful that the British family of three who were in that theatre are now safe and well

Sir Roderic Lyne

The rebels released Mr Low, a 59-year-old retired advertising executive, early in the crisis due to ill health.

But Richard, an Oxford University student, and his mother endured a further two days as hostages until Russian forces stormed the building, using poison gas to overcome those inside.

Hospital 'calm'

The Russian authorities say 118 hostages have died and about 390 are now receiving treatment for effects from the gas.

Sir Roderic praised the Russian rescue operation.

Unidentified Chechen rebel (left) being led away by Russian special forces agent
The rebels had threatened to blow up the theatre
He said it was very upsetting that a large number of people had lost their lives, but at the same time hundreds of people had escaped a theatre packed with explosives.

"We are very grateful that the British family of three who were in that theatre are now safe and well," he said.

"I went to the hospital where Richard Low was and the atmosphere there was completely calm," he told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

"They've been seen by our embassy doctor and they're not suffering any obvious ill effects from this at all."

The authorities in Russia are coming under increasing pressure to reveal details about the type of gas used by the special forces.

As the death toll of hostages rose, two foreign nationals were reported to have died from gas poisoning. But Russia has maintained that none of the deaths were caused by gas.

Chechnya problem

Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Chechnya was currently "one of the most intractable problems in foreign policy".

The leader of the Commons told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme: "We always argued that the Russians do need to have a political strategy as well as a military strategy for resolving that problem.

"But in fairness to President Putin, what he will always say when you put this point to him is if we're going to have a political process, both sides need to play."

In the light of the theatre siege, the Foreign Office says it has no intelligence that further terrorist attacks are likely in Moscow but it is advising Britons to be on their guard in crowded places.

The Foreign Office advice remains against all travel to Chechnya, but vigilance is also recommended in the rest of the Russian Federation.

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 ON THIS STORY
Sir Roderic Lyne, British Ambassador to Russia
"Several hundred deaths have been averted"

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