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Two of the 184 hostages released from the hijacked Sudan Airways flight at Stansted Airport on Tuesday have applied to stay in Britain. The Home Office confirmed yesterday that the unnamed pair, understood to be Sudanese, sought leave to remain when they were interviewed by immigration officials this week. It is understood they are claiming political asylum, although the Home Office refused yesterday to specify grounds.

A spokesman said the applications were being considered but that it was likely to be six months before a decision could be made. After that, he said, there was an appeals procedure which could take a further six months. Because they applied for asylum at their port of entry, the couple will be entitled to claim benefits.