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Thousands of Dutch Pay Respect to US Victims

People throughout Europe have observed three minutes of silence in memory of the victims of Tuesday's terror attacks in the United States. Thousands of Dutch people came Dam Square in Amsterdam, to pay their respects.

It was an extraordinary scene. The bells rang at noon and all traffic came to a halt, with total silence descending upon this normally busy square in central Amsterdam. The only noise and movement came from the pigeons. Many people were in tears, like 33-year old Reinier Snijders. "I feel really sad that I'm living in a world with so many sick people," he said.

New Yorker Tom Guarriello was also here. He took off from New Jersey's Teetoboro airport on a corporate jet Tuesday morning, en route to Rome for a business trip. Two hours later, the pilot broke the news of the terror attacks and diverted the plane to Amsterdam, thinking it safer. Mr. Guarriello came to Dam Square to share the grief. "I wanted to be with as many people as I could to experience what we just experienced, the outpouring of support for the human spirit," he said. "They can't kill that."

Like about 1,100 other people stranded here, Tom Guarriello wants to go home.

There were also several Dutch fire fighters among the people flocking to Dam Square to pay their respects. Rob Veld Heer is one of them. "We are all family around the world, all fire fighters," he said. "We know how it is to lose colleagues."

He said if New York City needs them, Dutch fire fighters are ready to help.

There is a fear in the Netherlands that a U.S. retaliation to Tuesday's attacks could be too strong. Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, while expressing his grief and solidarity, has said he hopes the U.S. reacts with what he calls "dignity", a comment widely seen here as meaning 'think before acting.' A news poll shows that almost 45 percent of Dutch people fear the attacks in the U.S. could lead to World war III.