Agonising wait for families of the missing

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The Independent Online

A handful of British families had their prayers answered yesterday when relatives missing since Saturday's bombing were found alive. But for many others the slow process of identifying the bodies added to the agony.

A handful of British families had their prayers answered yesterday when relatives missing since Saturday's bombing were found alive. But for many others the slow process of identifying the bodies added to the agony.

Among more than 180 people killed were 17 Britons, with 13 missing, feared dead, a Foreign Office spokesman said last night.

"Yesterday I had to tell a father his 18-year-old daughter had died," the British consul, Alan Marshall, said yesterday as he described how his staff had shed tears as they spent the day breaking the news.

The names of cousins Laura France, 18, and Natalie Perkins, 20, were added to those said to have died. Their parents confirmed "with deep sadness" that the two girls were believed to be among the dead.

Many of the British casualties were expatriate sportsmen attending an amateur rugby tournament.

John Ellwood, 39, a teacher, was confirmed dead by his school in Vietnam. Ian Findley, 55, from Co Durham, was also among the dead.

Other British families received unexpectedly good news. Among them were the parents of Kate Blackmore and her boyfriend, Jamie Houghton, both 25, who had not been heard of since the blast.

The couple made contact via e-mail yesterday, saying "sorry if you are worried, we just heard ... we are both okay, and are off to Thailand". Kate's father, John, of Leamington Spa, said he felt "total relief" after "days of hell".

The victims were drawn from nine nations. Australia suffered the greatest number of casualties with 30 dead and 180 missing.

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