Ten days after a massive earthquake off Sumatra sent giant waves crashing into coastlines round the Indian Ocean, citizens from Rotterdam to Rome fell silent at midday Wednesday (European time) to mourn the dead.

In parts of Europe trains, buses and trams ground to a halt, cash tills in shops fell silent, airline passengers stood still in departure terminals and factory workers gathered to pay their respects to the dead and show solidarity with survivors.

More than 9,000 foreign tourists, are dead, missing or unaccounted for after the disaster, which devastated coastal villages and resorts in north western Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Flags were flying at half-mast across the continent another poignant sign of respect for those killed in the catastrophe.

The continent-wide tribute, came after the first coffins carrying Swedish victims of the tsunamis arrived in Stockholm.

Sweden, which is feared to be among the worst hit countries in Europe, rolled out full honours for the six caskets, which arrived on board a Hercules military transport plane from Phuket, in Thailand.

So far 286 Europeans have been confirmed as dead after the December 26 disaster, but more than 5,000 remain missing and are feared dead.

Europe’s silent commemoration was called for by the current Luxembourg presidency of the European Union, which is seeking to coordinate European governments’ aid efforts.

In Brussels, EU officials including European Parliament head Josep Borrell gathered in an open-air ceremony attended by several hundred people in the heart of the Belgian capital’s EU district.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was absent, en route for an emergency donors’ summit in Jakarta.

In Germany, where 60 people have been killed and 1,000 remain missing, flags flew at half-mast from the parliament building, the Reichstag, in Berlin.

The television midday news opened silently with images of the devastation wreaked by the tsunamis.

At the Frankfurt bourse, traders stood in silence, and even the German trains left one minute late out of respect.

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