Europe falls silent for tsunami victims
AMSTERDAM: Europeans observed three minutes silence on Wednesday with mass tributes at busy railway stations, bustling stock exchanges, homes and offices in memory of the tens of thousands who died in Asia’s tsunami disaster.
Ten days after a massive earthquake off Sumatra sent giant waves crashing into coastlines round the Indian Ocean, citizens from Rotterdam to Rome fell silent at noon (1100 GMT) to mourn the more than 145,000 people known to have been killed.
European Union public buildings flew flags at half mast, stock exchanges fell silent, crowded railway stations came to a standstill and television and radio stations broadcast solemn music in memory of the victims.
In Berlin, flags on government buildings and embassies flew at half mast. In the Netherlands, the cabinet gathered with diplomats for a silent ceremony to honour the dead as governments across Europe called for a silent tribute.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said trains in stations would halt for one minute and staff would stop work for three minutes. Similar pauses were planned in airports. In the Netherlands trains, trams and buses stopped at noon. “We live from the travel industry,” Berlin airports chief Dieter Johannsen-Roth said. “So we have to accept responsibility to the people in the region.”
Luxembourg, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, called on all 25 member states and EU institutions to observe the silence to “show solidarity and mourn the victims of the disaster”, a European Commission spokesman said.
More than 9,000 foreign tourists, mostly Europeans, are dead, missing or unaccounted for after the disaster.
Some Italian shops were planning to suspend business around noon, while the Swedish bourse company OMX called on dealers to observe the three minutes’ silence on the Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius bourses. Pope John Paul joined the day of mourning for the victims, offering prayers for the dead and for the millions struggling to survive. reuters