Czechs join world-wide mourning for U.S. dead

Well all around the world today, Friday September 14th, people have been remembering the victims of Tuesday's catastrophic terrorist attacks on the United States. Images of those attacks - repeated endlessly on TV screens and splashed across newspapers - has produced a world-wide outpouring of grief and sympathy perhaps unprecedented in modern history. Rob Cameron reports on how the Czech people marked that day.

12 o'clock, Friday September 14th. Sirens and bells ring out in Prague's Namesti Miru Square. Businessmen, shoppers and tourists stop in their tracks, as Czechs join millions of people across Europe to observe three minutes of silence in memory of the victims of Tuesday's attacks. The Czech flag was lowered to half mast on official buildings throughout the country, and there was silence at noon on all of Czech Radio's channels. Even the national lottery company Sazka suspended all of its bets.

The Czech people, just like people throughout the world, have been deeply affected by Tuesday's catastrophe. Earlier in the week we asked passers-by for their thoughts.

"It's terrible. Czech Radio had people give blood this week. I give blood regularly, but now I want to give three times as much to help those people in America."

"The ones who did this are not people, they are animals. It's frightening and terrible. I simply can't get over what happened. I am afraid that there will be war. I was born in WWII, I saw the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops in 1968, and I think that that is enough."

"It's a terrible tragedy. I think that there has never been anything like it and I don't think that those who committed this crime have any idea what consequences this will have for the entire world."

Corrin Carter is from Minnesota in the U.S.A, and has lived in the Czech Republic for 3 years. She told Radio Prague the outpouring of sympathy for the people of the United States was deeply appreciated.

"I think the entire world was shocked by Tuesday's events, and it truly means a lot to those Americans who are abroad to see the outpouring of sympathy that is being shown. Whether it be flowers placed on memorials or in front of the embassies, or candles placed in windows, or moments of silence, I think it really does show that it affected the entire world, it wasn't just one country. It's very much appreciated."

There are still some 60 Czechs officially registered as missing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although the list is changing constantly and probably includes many people who were nowhere near the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon at the time. But some Czechs are believed to be among the dead, their bodies lying somewhere in the rubble of the World Trade Centre. Others managed to escape, just minutes before the Twin Towers collapsed. Mrs Vratislava Pelova was in the adjacent World Trade Centre Number Seven building at the time of the attacks. Her husband Premysl Pela, director of the Czech Centre in New York, told Radio Prague of his relief after hearing she was alive.

"That was really one of the worst days for me personally, and of course for her. She was in one of the buildings that went down, the third one, World Trade Centre Number Seven. So she really went through the horror definitely personally, and it was really a matter of minutes after they escaped that the first twin collapsed and destroyed the place where they had been. So I was very happy and glad to hear after five hours that she was fine, and alive."