Popular mayor of Amsterdam dies after battling lung cancer

Eberhaard van der Laan, the popular mayor of Amsterdam who ran the city with both a firm hand and compassionate touch, has died after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 62.

Amsterdam Municipality, which Van der Laan led for seven years before stepping down last month because of his failing health, said early Friday that Van der Laan died Thursday night.

In September, he wrote an open letter to all Amsterdam residents announcing he was setting aside his work. He closed the letter with a line that underscored his affection for both the city and its residents: "Take good care of our city and of each other. Farewell."

Following the announcement, hundreds of people gathered outside his official residence, a historic canal-side mansion, and applauded the mayor.