Queen, PM honour tsunami victims

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — As the Dutch death toll from last month's Indian Ocean tsunami rose to 12 on Tuesday, Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende offered their condolences to victims and families of the disaster at a commemorative ceremony in The Hague.

25 January 2005

AMSTERDAM — As the Dutch death toll from last month's Indian Ocean tsunami rose to 12 on Tuesday, Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende offered their condolences to victims and families of the disaster at a commemorative ceremony in The Hague.

Some 300 people attended the ceremony, including Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima. The Queen's sister, Princess Margriet and her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven, also attended.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said every Dutch person was forming a symbolic circle around the victims and their families. "Missing someone you love feels like a gaping hole. Whoever misses a loved one has lost part of themselves, perhaps even the most beautiful part," he said.

Balkenende also said the Dutch people have shown their good side in the past few weeks, and asserted the nation was "standing still" on Tuesday to commemorate personal tragedies. He said houses can be rebuilt, but the sadness and loss of a loved one could not be repaired.

Disaster survivor Rutger Kopland read aloud his poem, pointing out that people had lived between hope and fear for weeks on end waiting for news of their loved ones.

Many people in attendance were clearly emotional on Tuesday, as victims and families met with the members of the royal family and Cabinet ministers after the ceremony.

Interior Minister Johan Remkes, Foreign Minister Ben Bot and Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm also attended the ceremony at the Knights Hall, located in the grounds of the Dutch Parliament.

Ambassadors of the tsunami-hit nations were also in attendance, as was the head of the Disaster Identification Team (RIT), which was dispatched to the disaster area to help in the identification of victims.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said the 12th Dutch victim had been confirmed on Tuesday. The victim was identified in Thailand, bringing the number of Dutch deaths in that country to 10. One victim has been identified in Sri Lanka and another died during a flight from Thailand to Brussels.

The number of missing, presumed dead, Dutch nationals numbers just under 30. In addition, the Foreign Ministry is aware of 10 difficult to trace Dutch nationals who were possibly in the region hit by the tsunami on 26 December.

Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities raised the nation's estimated death and missing toll on Tuesday to more than 220,000, bringing the total number of deaths in the tsunami-hit countries to about 280,000.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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