Relatives and friends of U.S. hostage Terry Anderson and British hostage John McCarthy sent them messages of support on Christmas Eve urging them to keep morale high.

"John. The fifth Christmas without you, without your laughter and kindness. For a fifth time, our tidings of comfort and joy are diminished by your absence," said a message to be published from McCarthy's loved ones."Again, we try to imagine your plight and hope you realize we all miss you," the message said. "Stay as cheerful as you can and please be assured we all miss you and love you."

The message was to be published by two leading Beirut newspapers, An-Nahar and As-Safir, Tuesday.

McCarthy was en route to Beirut airport April 17, 1986, after completing a 32-day assignment in Lebanon with Worldwide Television News when he was snatched by gunmen.

McCarthy had fallen victim of a wave of anti-Western abductions by pro-Iranian zealots that broke out in 1984.

The Beirut newspapers also were scheduled to publish two other statements, one signed by Anderson's sister Peggy Say, and the other by his wife Madeleine and his daughter Sulome.

"I hope you are staying strong and well, and like us, living in hope that this will be your last Christmas in captivity. Perhaps our miracle will happen and we'll welcome you home in time to share the beginning of the new year," Say said.

Say, who has relentlessly campaigned for the release of her brother, said: "You and your fellow hostages have not been forgotten, Terry, and you will never be.

"For every day that you suffer, thousands of Americans agonize with you."

Madeleine and Sulome urged him to maintain high morale, saying, "We are so near you and yet so far. But our hopes are always high for a bright future and reunion forever."