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People around the world mourn Princess Diana

August 31, 1997

People she had charmed and the charities and causes that counted on her efforts grieved over Princess Diana’s death Sunday.

Stunned Japanese gathered in front of a giant outdoor television screen in central Tokyo to watch news reports on the auto crash that ended the princess’ life. Major newspapers put out extra editions.

In New York, shock and sadness mixed with anger at the media.

``Is it worth a woman’s life to get a story about her?″ asked Ruth Groebner, 32, a customer in an Irish pub.

Britons Shani Smith and Lesley Roberts received the news from the pub’s Irish proprietors.

``They were as upset as we were,″ said Smith, 33. ``It’s sad that she died the way she did, but she died happy because she died with the one she loved.″

Diana, her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their chauffeur died Sunday in a car crash in Paris after being pursued at high speed by paparazzi on motorcycles. Their Mercedes crashed in a tunnel along the Seine River at the Pont de l’Alma bridge, just north of the Eiffel Tower.

In Santa Monica, California, John Crowther, manager of a British pub, said, ``This is the quietest night I have seen in the 17 years I’ve been here.″

About 100 people mingled in the bar, some watching a television that flashed continuous reports of the princess’ death.

Brian Thornton, who was vacationing from Yorkshire, England, said the princess was ``idealized worldwide. People back home are going to turn on the tellies and be deeply saddened.″

In his condolence message to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited Diana’s charity work.

``The princess was a woman of grace, beauty and charm. She represented Britain with nobility and warmth, and she captured the imagination of millions throughout the world with her dedication to her children and to innumerable worthy causes,″ he said. ``Her untimely death is a shock to all who admired her and who will cherish her memory.″

The princess patronized many causes worldwide.

``This tragedy is a loss of an irreplaceable spokesman for the needs of the suffering and less fortunate in the world,″ said a statement from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, which Diana had visited to help raise funds.

The hospital was founded in 1994 by cricket star Imran Khan, who said Diana had ``achieved unprecedented heights in the service of mankind.″

A group trying to clear some of the estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines in Cambodia called the princess’ death a ``setback to the movement.″

``We are saddened, because she was taking a lead role in the issue of banning land mines,″ said Tariq Abbasi, acting project director of the Mines Advisory Group.

Diana had visited Angola and the former Yugoslavia in the past year to lend her high profile to mine-clearance efforts. She had been rumored to be planning a Cambodia trip, but it was never confirmed.

Diana’s death also was felt by a program to combat AIDS in Thailand, which she had been scheduled to visit in November.

Mother Teresa, renowned for her work for the downtrodden, said in Calcutta, India, ``I am deeply shocked to hear the sad news of death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris.″

A statement from Mario Villarroel Lander, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, ``We are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy and the loss of a warm and compassionate person who dedicated her life to humanity.″

Dignitaries from many nations were quick to express similar sentiments.

``Hillary and I knew Princess Diana, and we were very fond of her. We are profoundly saddened by this tragic event,″ U.S. President Bill Clinton said in a statement.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, ``It has ended at a young age the life of a person who held a particular fascination for many people around the world.″

Philippine President Fidel Ramos said, ``This is such a tragic accident, although it could have been avoided.″

Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen expressed great sympathy for the princess’ two sons, saying they had ``lost their mother in an unfair way.″

``I can understand that the car was being chased by photographers on motorcycles. Now the bottom line must have been reached for what photographers can do,″ he said.

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