British Death Toll Approaches 100

The confirmed number of British victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States is approaching 100, said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday.

But the final toll was expected to be in the "middle hundreds" and may be higher still, he warned when speaking before an emergency cabinet meeting into the disaster.

Scotland Yard's casualty bureau is coordinating efforts to trace Britons who are missing following Tuesday's strikes.

The bureau has already contacted the families of many of the confirmed fatalities, Straw said, and there have been a "massive" number of calls to the Foreign Office's emergency line from relatives still waiting for news.

Straw said that given the appalling scenes at the World Trade Center, hope must be fading for many British families.

He stressed the casualty figures were imprecise, and added that the atrocities had literally created a "fog of war" where people who were missing sometimes were reunited with their families -- but more often were not.

Straw said NATO and the United Nations Security Council were both resolved to take any necessary action to bring those responsible to account.

And he said British intelligence services would "intensify" their work with the U.S. authorities in sharing information about the attacks.

Straw denied that the British government was trying to persuade the U.S. to "cool" its response, which has been framed in terms of war.

There should be, he said, "a determined response, a response that is based on judgments, and of course which is based on evidence."

Security measures, including a ban on flights over central London, remain in place across Britain.

They will be reviewed again at a meeting of the government's civil contingencies committee ahead of the full cabinet meeting.

Parliament is being recalled on Friday. On the same day there will be a European Union-wide day of mourning where all member states have been asked to observe three minutes of silence at 1000 GMT.

People's Daily Online ---