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Attack victims were from around world

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001


MEXICO CITY -- New York's tragedy became the world's when terrorists slammed hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, where thousands of foreigners work or visit every day.

By Thursday, from China to Mexico, tens of thousands of anxious relatives had swamped offices and telephone hot lines set up by their governments to gather information on their citizens.

The heaviest foreign toll appeared to be borne by Britons.

"I understand that the number of confirmed British deaths is now approaching 100," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Thursday. "Although these ... cannot be anything but imprecise estimates, the total number of British deaths is unlikely to be less than the middle hundreds and maybe higher."

At least 50 Bangladeshis have been confirmed dead in the attacks. Government spokesman Safi Sami said many worked at restaurants in the towers.

About 100 Japanese nationals, including dozens of tourists, were unaccounted for. There were 31 Japanese companies with branch offices in the Trade Center towers, and at least 22 workers were among the missing.

Canadian officials said that two Canadian citizens died on the hijacked planes and that from 50 to 100 others were missing.

Nine Australians were confirmed dead, and another 85 were missing. "We have little doubt that we will need to brace ourselves for more," Defense Minister Peter Reith said.

Twenty-seven South Koreans, most of whom worked in the towers, were listed as missing.

At Mexico's presidential residence, operators working toll-free lines fielded 2,500 calls since Tuesday; 11 Mexicans are listed as missing.

Others missing included people from China, Colombia, Switzerland, Italy and El Salvador.

In the town of Penuelas in southern Puerto Rico, Milagros Diaz was mourning the death of her daughter, 32-year-old secretary Lourdes Galleti Diaz, who was trapped in the north tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit.

For two days, Diaz had no word of her daughter, and she erected an altar in her home with photos, porcelain angels, flowers and candles. On Wednesday night, she said, her daughter's boss called to say he had spoken by phone to Galleti after the impact.

"At 8:55 a.m. he received the call from my daughter, who said, "We are burning, I'm burning, there is a lot of smoke. ... Help me. We need help. We can't get out.' "

An explosion was felt, and the call cut off, Diaz said.

Other families got good news.

Glenia Bardales, 15, of Honduras, described a call from her father, Armando Bardales, a pastry chef who was working in the Marriott at the World Trade Center when the first plane struck.

The 40-year-old Bardales called nine hours after the attack to say he escaped by breaking the glass in a second story window and jumping out.

"He said it felt like an earthquake," the teenager said, adding that he described running through smoke and falling glass, when a "body fell on the pavement in front of him."

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