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Last Updated: Friday, 31 December 2004, 16:22 GMT
Royal boost for tsunami workers
Prince Charles and British Red Cross staff at Moorfields
The prince met staff at Moorfields who have been working "all hours"
Prince Charles has visited the British Red Cross's headquarters where staff have been working flat out since the Asian tsunami struck on Boxing Day.

Chief Executive Sir Nicholas Young said the prince's 90-minute visit had been a morale boost for Red Cross staff.

They have been at the forefront of relief efforts, both abroad and in the UK where they have been treating Britons returning from the disaster.

At Gatwick teams have offered clothing, first aid and psychological support.

Prince Charles, the charity's president, visited its offices in Moorfields, central London, on Friday, where staff are planning how to get relief to the countries which were worst hit.

They are very traumatised by what they have seen
Liz Page, British Red Cross
Regional Red Cross director Liz Page told him that tourists had been arriving at Heathrow, in west London, and Gatwick, in East Sussex, dressed in just their swimsuits.

She said: "Some are injured with infected mosquito bites broken limbs and lacerations. They are very traumatised by what they have seen.

"It's good for them to have someone to welcome them and make sure they can get home as safely as possible."

About 1,000 people have been treated at Gatwick, where Red Cross staff and volunteers are stationed for 24-hours a day to meet those coming off planes.

Tsunami survivors at Gatwick airport
Psychological support is available as survivors step off the plane
On Thursday alone 15 people were given first aid and 60 people clothing.

Gloria Moss, a senior services manager for the British Red Cross, said: "We give them a fleece and a pair of jogging bottoms and they feel human again.

"Some people are coming off the flights in just their boxer shorts and with no luggage.

"They have lost everything, so often it's just a case of making sure they have warm enough clothes," she said.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott met emergency workers at Heathrow on Friday where two reception centres are being manned by staff from the Metropolitan Police, the British Red Cross, the London Ambulance Service and other groups.

Passengers are treated and can meet up with their relatives. There is also a multi-faith chaplain service and chapel to provide support.

Military assistance

Mr Prescott shrugged off suggestions Prime Minister Tony Blair should return from his holiday early - saying Mr Blair had been overseeing British aid efforts "morning and night" while he has been away.

He added Britain had agreed to provide helicopters, shops and a "sub-support vessel" as a request for military assitance had been made.

"Now that's ahead of any other country, we have given more than any other country has given and it shows the dedication of this prime minister that we are making headway and dealing with the problems that people want dealt with," said Mr Prescott.




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