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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) working with their Pakistani

brothers. Stay with us

throughout this morning, will

you?. Terrific. Joining us is

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith

on the line from London. Good

morning. Good morning,

Virginia. What's the latest

that you can update us on the

status of the Australians

believed to be still trapped in

those hotels? . I can confirm

one Australian's dead. There

are unconfirmed reports of a

second Australian death which

we're very gravely concerned

about. We tone - continue to

believe we've got a number of

Australians in the hotel, we

can't be very precise or

precise at all about the

numbers: Thist could be as high

as 26. But even that I say is a

very rough estimate. We've made

contact with some of them

through our officers on the ground, our High Commission

staff on the ground but we know

there are other Australians we

believe in the hotel who we

haven't been able to make

contact with. That's been

unfortunately the position for

some hours and so we're in the

very difficult position of not

being able to account for the

safety and security of a number

of Australians and that's

desperately worrying for us as

it is for their families. I

know this is a very quickly

moving and also rather obscure

issue this morning, but as far

as you know, do you know that

the incompetence dent at the -

incident at the Taj Palace

hotel has ended and that there

are no hostages being held

there any more? Well, I've seen

suggestions to that effect. But

I can't confirm that. I can

confirm we know over the last

number of hours, that people

have been coming out of the Taj

Mahal Hotel, certainly for a

number of hours now, if you

like, hostility rr activity, at

the - at that hotel have been

considerably less than at the

hotel down the road at the

Oberoi hotel. We can't confirm

that all activity has ceased at

the Taj Mahal Hotel but that

has been looking for some hours

as being in a considerably

better position in terms of

safety and security than the

hotel down the road, answer the

additional difficulty with that

hotel of course is there is

also a fire there., we know

that some people including some

Australians have come out of

the Taj Mahal Hotel but I can't

confirm that all hostilities or

activity has ceased there, but

it's in a much better shape

than the other. OK. Just so

clarify then, the potential 26

Australians we might be still

concerned about, that's not

exclusively the province of the

other hotel, the Oberoi Hotel,

it's 26 across the two Ho

hotels? Yes. I just make this

point clear, that's the figure

I've used. We can't be def

entev or prosis about

that. Yes, of course. We have

registered Australians who

register through our travel -er

our Smart Traveller system.

We've been endeavouring to make

contact with Australians who

are registered, we've made some

contact with those, we've also

made contact with families

who've expressed concerns to us

either in Canberra or India

about their whereabouts, we

also believe there are other

Australians who we haven't been

able to make contact with who

we can't account for, so that's

a rough figure, frankly if

there is one Australian that we

can't afound Of count for that

is cause for concern for us.

But it is a very difficult

situation.. I spoke early

Australia time to my Indian

counterpart, external affairs

Minister Mukherjee, he was

quite open about the fact we've

got a difficult situation where

it's difficult to be precise

about the facts and where

events continue town fold and -

continue to unfold and we've

got our High Commissioner who

by coincidence happened to be

in Mumbai, effectively on the

ground in the vicinity of the

hotel doing his best together

with other officers. It may

take some longer time before

there is a compat capacity once

hostilityings ceased in the

Oberoi hotel, a capacity to

make final assessments about

who has been in the hotel and

who has managed to effectively

get out safely. Minister, you

mentioned the unconfirmed

second Australian death.le do

you hold grave fears there

could be even more fatalities?

I certainly hold grave fears

about a second Australian

fatality on the basis of the

information that I have which

I'm not in a position no to go

through with you. I'm very

gravely concerned about that.

I'm not proposing to speculate

about any others other than to

say we know that we have a

number of Australians

unaccounted for, and when we

can't account for them, when we

can't vouch safe for their

security and welfare, then we

answer their families, of

course, are Des mat Pratley

worried, I'm not proposing to

speculate about any other

potential fatalities. We have a

just got to partly take this -

patiently take this step by

step even though that's putting

enormous pressure on Australian

families and those people who

either we or the media have

made contact with who are in

the hotel who on all the

reports I've seen' heard are

conducting themselves in a very

brave and stoic manner. Are you

comfortable and pleased with

the level of information and

cooperation you're receiving

from the observedian

authorities and officials in -

from the observedian cooperation you're receiving Level of information and

from the observedian cooperation you're receiving Level of information and authorities and officials in -

authorities and officials in - Indi

and officials in -

Indian. Absolutely. I was

surprised given the great

pressure that the Indian

Government is under,ing that I

was able to speak to the

external affairs Minister

Mukherjee. He was at pains to

firstly thanks Australians for

the condole especiallies I he

relayed, very grateful for my

indication Australia would

stand shoulder to shoulder with

India and we would render

assistance if they needed or

wanted it. He was at pains to

make the point that the Indian

military and place who have the

job of trying to bring the

situation under control are

very, very conscious of the

danger to what the Minister

described as innocent victims

in the hotel and very conscious

of not doing anything which

would exacerbate their

dangerous or perilous

situations. So - and undertook

to let us know as quickly as possible what further

information comes to hand. He

was also quite open about the

fact that even for the Indian

authorities it's a very

difficult situation to get

fully on top of. But I've got

absolute confidence in the

Indian authorities to handle

what's a very, very difficult

situation as well as anyone

can. What's the plan that the

Australian Government has to

assist Australians to get out

of Mumbai and to get out of

India? Well, those Australians

who have either come out of the

hotel or who are in the vis net

that we've made contact with,

we're rendering them whatever

assistance we can to either

make sure they're safe in

Mumbai and Australians who are

in Mumbai should essentially

stay inside and keep their

heads down, but also to

facilitate people in terms of

getting out of Mumbai, indeed

getting out of India, as you

may be aware late yesterday we

changed or travel advisory o

for India to reconsider the

need to travel. This is a

higher level, our second

highest level. Obviously we've

done that given what's occurred

in terms of these terrible

terrorist attacks in the last

24, 36 hours. What's the

Australian Government's

understand being the nature and

identities of those who claim

to be behind these attacks?

What does your intelligence

tell you, Minister? I never

talk about intelligence

firstly. Secondly I think it's

very early days.le yes, I've

seen the suggestions of the

so-called Deccan Mujahadeen. A

group that's frankly not well

known. I've also seen

suggestion that is there may

have been external influences

or external assistance, I think

it's very early days. I think

given the the sophisticated

orchestrated nature of the

attack, the fact for the first

time in India we're seeing an

attack which looks as though in

part or in whole that's

targeted at Westerners or

foreigners I think is a

disturbing development. So I

think we're a long way from

coming to any conclusive

judgments about that. Can I

also make this point - having

made the point that for the

first time we've seen an attack

which may well be aimed at

Westerners or foreigners or at

people from the US or the UK,

this is at its core, an attack

upon India and the Indian

people. venl there are Indian

casualties and fat alities in

this and this is an attack upon

India's territorial

sovereignty, it speg rity, this

is first and fore most an

attack upon India but the

sophisticated nature and

coordination of the attacks,

half a dozen or more, and the

attack either at westerners or

foreigners or at symbols of the

West, is a very disturbing

development. We've seen

terrible and regrettable takes

in India in the course of this

year, but these have almost

exclusively been, if you like,

communal or internally aimed

and focused. This is the first

time we've seen an attack of of

this nature. We're very short

of time and it's a difficult

question to answer briefly but

could I just get your spons on

the latest developments in

Thailand, an equally serious

issue? Well n recent hours and

just as I've been speaking at

length to our High Commissioner

I've been speaking to our

ambassador in Thailand. In

recent hours the Thai

Government has declared state

of emergency on the two

airports. That may well see the domestic and international

airport in Bangkok, that may

well see those airports cleared

and available for use in the

forthcoming period, for the

present we urge Australians to

stay away from the airports for

fear of demonstrations or

violence at the airports. They

should keep away from

demonstrations or from

Government buildings, we have

managed, through our

ambassador, our officials in

Thailand to get the Thai

tourist authority to pay for

one or two nights of additional

accommodation, and we're - at

the same time explore ing every option with the Thai

authorities but also with the

airlines including Qantas to do

our best to look at all the

contingencies of getting

Australians out of Bangkok. And

anyone who is in Bangkok should

exercise extreme caution. If

you're in your hotel room you