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Europe pays tribute to tsunami victims

Published on 05/01/2005

5 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Europe stood at a standstill on Wednesday in a three-minute tribute to the millions of victims of the 26 December tsunamis.

A Brussels ceremony in the heart of the city’s EU district included four European Commissioners – Poland’s Danuta Hubner, Spain’s Joachim Almunia, Dalia Grybouskaite from Lithuania and Stavros Dimas from Greece.

They were joined by the president and political group leaders of the European Parliament.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was absent from the ceremony as he is now en route to Jakarta, Indonesia – the worst hit region in the catastrophe.

The European dignitaries were joined by hundreds more people seeking to pay their respects.

Public transport and administrations across Belgium took part in the silent tribute, with civil servants, traders, customers all stopping their daily business.

Many Belgian media organisations, including RTBF and RTL-TV1, broke their programming schedule and stock exchanges across Europe stopped trading.

Denmark was the only country not to take part in the moment of silence as it already had a two minute tribute on Sunday. The Danes opted instead to fly their flags at half mast.

The number of those killed in the South East Asian tragedy stands at around 146 000, but thousands are still missing.

Belgium will be contributing to the international aid operation by sending a military mission to Sri Lanka and Indonesia next week.

Defence Minister Andre Flahaut said talks were underway with Germany, France, Spain and Luxembourg to give a “European dimension to the project.”

In Sri Lanka the Belgian military will undertake a number of concrete projects coordinated by the Consul and the local authorities.

This will include the reconstruction of schools, water sanitation, and medical work.

In Indonesia a Belgian medical team will join with a German mission to set up a field hospital.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news