Sat, May 24, 2008 - Page 2 News List

UK launches service to track nationals in case of disaster

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has launched a new service called LOCATE, which will help it track down Britons in the event of a crisis abroad, a press release from the British Trade and Cultural Office said yesterday.

The new online service was created by the FCO in response to the changing face of travel and allows people to register details of their foreign trips as well as contacts so they can be found more easily in case of emergency, the press release said.

The FCO said the service was not tailored specifically for the recent cyclone disaster in Myanmar or earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province.

The service is of great importance, the press release said, as a survey revealed that two-thirds of Britons do not know where their loved ones are while overseas and over half of the people who took the survey said they go abroad without leaving details of their trips with friends and family.

“It’s great to get off the beaten track when we’re away from home, but things can change very quickly in any country,” Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn said. “In our survey, more than nine out of 10 Britons said they would feel reassured to know that in the event of an emergency abroad, the local embassy could quickly find their location.”

The service, which officially started last Friday, is a two-way service and in the event of an emergency, worried family members can register details of a loved one who might be caught up in an incident. Also, if the traveler confirms with the FCO that they are safe, LOCATE can match the two pieces of information and the good news can be quickly passed on to relatives, the press release said.

“The LOCATE service will give you personal peace of mind while you’re exploring far-flung places, as well as providing reassurance for friends and family if they lose touch with you that you may be located during a crisis,” said Frances Linzee Gordon, a travel editor for Lonely Planet.

The FCO advises that travelers simply add LOCATE to their usual pre-travel checklist and visit LOCATE at www.fco.gov.uk/en/traveling-and-living-overseas/Locate.

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