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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Europe searches for its victims
Vigil in Munich, Germany
Vigils were held around Europe for the victims
European countries are still trying to track down information about their citizens after Tuesday's aircraft attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

To watch two planes crash into the two buildings and then discovering afterwards that your sister and your niece were on the plane was absolutely horrific

John Clifford
Two Irish citizens and four Germans are confirmed to have died and UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that the number of Britons confirmed dead is approaching 100.

Speaking before an emergency cabinet session on Thursday, Mr Straw said the UK final toll was likely to exceed the "middle hundreds".

Worried people from across Europe have been calling special government hotlines, trying to establish the fate of their friends and family.

The towers of the World Trade Centre housed many of the big names in international finance, including several of the leading European banks.

Irish fears receding

In France, the Credit Agricole bank said that 86 of its employees who worked on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Centre remained unaccounted for.

Ruth McCourt from the Republic of Ireland and her four-year-old daughter, Juliana, were on board the United Airlines flight which ploughed into the side of the World Trade Centre's south tower.

Ruth McCourt and daughter Juliana
Ruth McCourt was on her way to Los Angeles with four-year-old Juliana
By a twist of fate, her brother, Ronnie had just walked into the building and made a miraculous escape.

"To watch two planes crash into the two buildings and then discovering afterwards that your sister and your niece were on the plane was absolutely horrific," said Ruth's brother, John Clifford who saw the crash on television from his home in Cork.

The close ties between Ireland and the US and the massive Irish-American diaspora have left the country, described by some as the "51st state," feeling particularly stunned by Wednesday's events.

The Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has received between 2,500 and 3,000 calls to its dedicated phone lines and has set up a database of those unaccounted for.

A spokeswoman said that as people managed to re-establish contact with their relatives the numbers feared dead were dropping.

Day of mourning

In Germany, officials said four Germans had been on board the hijacked planes.

One was a stewardess, while the other three were businessmen from the Baden-Wuerttemberg region.

American embassy in Dublin
Ireland has felt the attack particularly strongly
Mr Volmer warned that the number of German victims was likely to rise.

"We know that several German firms were located in the World Trade Centre and the affected buildings round about and that employees may have been there at the time of the catastrophe," he said.

A spokeswoman for the ministry said the number of Germans feared dead was changing by the hour and there had been no confirmed information out of New York.

Around 20,000 calls had been made to the ministry's hotline, she said, though many people had phoned simply to express their sorrow at the events.

A day of mourning and a three-minute silence for all the victims of the attacks will take place across the European Union's 15 member states at 1000GMT (1100 BST, 1200CEST) on Friday.

The Council of Europe has also asked for the silence to be observed across its 43 member states, covering 800m people.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Europe
Attack fallout hits Europe
12 Sep 01 | Americas
Security alerts spread from US
12 Sep 01 | Europe
EU to 'stand by' US
12 Sep 01 | Europe
In pictures: Europe in shock
12 Sep 01 | Americas
New York rubble dumbfounds rescuers
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