Page last updated at 04:56 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 05:56 UK

Britons 'out of contact' in China

Building destroyed in China earthquake
Rescuers fear thousands of people are still trapped under rubble

Chinese authorities reportedly say they have lost contact with a group of 15 British tourists believed to be in the area worst affected by the earthquake.

China's Xinhua news agency said they were among 2,000 tourists stranded in Wenchuan county in Sichuan province.

Reports quoted officials who said the Britons were probably in Wolong, an area famous for its Giant Pandas.

The Foreign Office said it was trying to establish the whereabouts of any Britons in the devastated region.

A spokesman told the BBC News website: "We haven't had any confirmed reports of any injuries or casualties, but we are aware that there are reports of British tourists in the affected area, including one with a travel company.

Anyone in the UK concerned about friends or relatives should call 00 86 10 5192 4499
"We are trying to establish their whereabouts. We have got people in our embassy working round the clock."

The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.8, struck south-western China on Monday afternoon.

The death toll currently stands at about 10,000, but officials say they have no news yet from the towns at the epicentre.

In Maoxian county, 37 tourists were killed when their coach was buried in a landslide caused by the earthquake. Their nationalities were not clear.

The Foreign Office said anyone in the UK who is concerned about friends or relatives who may be in China should call its helpline on 00 86 10 5192 4499.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband earlier said the UK stood "ready to assist" in dealing with the devastation wrought by the quake.

"Emerging news of the loss of life and devastation in China is deeply saddening," he added.

"My thoughts are with the Chinese people and those families who have suffered loss. The Chinese government are to be commended for their quick and efficient response."




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