The streets of London fell silent Thursday for two minutes as Britain paused in memory of the victims of last week's terror bombings, and millions of people across Europe paid their own quiet tribute.
People stopped their work to commemorate the victims in public
Londoners poured out of buildings into the hushed city streets for two minutes at 1100 CET, bus drivers turned off their engines, and cars and taxis drew to a halt to pay their respects to the more than 50 people killed and 700 injured in the worst ever terror attack on the country.
Police officers observe the silence outside the house Leeds that was raided in connection with the bombings
Flags flew at half mast as Queen Elizabeth II joined in the tribute to the London dead, a toll that currently stands at 52 but which is expected to rise. Across the nation, shops, offices, factories, radio and television studios fell quiet.
In Madrid, which was itself the scene of indiscriminate terrorist carnage in March 2004, when 191 people died in attacks on trains, the Spanish seat of government, parliament, stock exchange and city hall were among the official venues that came to a standstill for the observance at 1:00 p.m. (1100 CET). The British embassy in Madrid was one of several across Europe where ceremonies were held.
In Brussels, the vice president of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, was joined by other commissioners and staff, about 100 in all, outside the executive's offices.
"We have to guarantee the fundamental right of security to citizens," Frattini said afterward. "It is a precondition for all other freedoms. If we are not free to go into the underground, our society is not free."
EU commissioners Franco Frattini, center right, and Jan Figel, center left, observe the silence at EU headquarters in Brussels
At the nearby European parliament, MEPs and staff also gathered in silent tribute around the building's central monument, where a British flag had been raised. Elsewhere in the Belgian capital, government ministers and parliamentarians observed the period of silence, while underground rail trains came to a stop at station platforms.
Trains stop rolling
British embassy staff in Berlin commemorate London's victims
German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder interrupted his work for the observance, as did the Frankfurt stock exchange. Public transport in German cities stood still.
French President Jacques Chirac delayed his traditional Bastille Day interview to take part in the tribute alongside British Ambassador John Holmes as sirens wailed to mark the start of the period. They were flanked by visiting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and the speakers of the French parliament and Senate, Jean-Louis Debre and Christian Poncelet. Flags were flying at half mast across Paris, and the metro marked a two-minute halt.
In Italy, the silence was observed by the Milan stock exchange and Rome's Fiumicino airport, while Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers to the victims and their families as well as for peace. "The Holy Father prayed for peace and that such acts of violence not recur," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls from the pope's holiday spot in the Italian Alps.
Vienna's transport network also came to a halt, as did public television and radio. Similarly in Portugal, the Lisbon metro stopped rolling, and President Jorge Sampaio, government ministers and lawmakers took part in the tribute.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende laid a wreath at the British embassy in The Hague, while flags flew at half mast on official buildings. Public transport halted, the ANP news agency interrupted work and people observed the silence at train stations and public offices in The Netherlands.
Sirens wailed in several cities of Poland, where public broadcasts halted as Prime Minister Marek Belka laid a wreath at the British embassy in Warsaw. Three Polish nationals were wounded in the London attacks, while eight are still missing.
In Latvia, state radio stopped broadcasting as government and private office workers gathered to pay homage to the victims, who included two Latvian women injured. In Hungary, government offices came to a standstill as well as the Budapest stock exchange. The Swedish government planned a ceremony to include Prime Minister Goran Persson, who interrupted his holiday for the occasion.
The observance was also marked in Denmark, Finland, Estonia and EU hopefuls Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, as well as non-EU member Norway, whose Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik urged his compatriots to take part.