LONDON (AP) _ Thousands of couples have been telephoning charities and adoption agencies in Britain asking how to adopt orphans from Romania, the agencies said Tuesday.

Pictures of overflowing Romanian orphanages, the result of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's policies prohibiting abortion, birth control and family planning information for women with fewer than five children, were broadcast by British TV Monday night.

The Flanders Scottish Alliance, an Edinburgh-based war charity, reported 2,000 calls since New Year's Eve from couples desperate to adopt.

Barbara Mostyn of the support group STORK said the group has been receiving calls all day. The Swansea, Wales-based International Family Support Group said it received calls from 40 to 50 couples.

''I am truly shocked,'' said Kevin Earnshaw, a member of the Flanders Scottish Alliance who returned from a five-day tour of Bucharest orphanages Monday night and spoke about his trip on the radio.

''It's been absolute chaos. The phones have been going non-stop. There are obviously a lot of childless couples in Britain ... but I've had Americans offering me all sorts of money for a baby,'' he said.

There are ''countless thousands'' of orphans in homes throughout Romania and at least 4,000 in the capital alone, he said.

Earnshaw and Ms. Mostyn of STORK said there were no procedures yet for adopting Romanian orphans.

''We are worried that people might feel they can just rush straight there but, as under Ceausescu none of the orphans were allowed to be adopted abroad, I assume there is no system for adoption, which I find worrying,'' Ms. Mostyn said.

Meanwhile, Earnshaw said, ''We are appealing for funds for medicinal and pediatric aid to be airlifted to the orphans.''

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