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|2005 New Year Celebrations...
Demonstrate Sensitivity for the Tsunami Victims
Pope John Paul II prayed for the victims of the Indian Ocean tidal waves during a special midnight Mass in his private chapel early Saturday, the Vatican said.
"Never has the step into a new year felt heavier," said Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson, who urged Swedes to light candles in their windows as a vigil. "We should have celebrated with fireworks and festivities. Now that feels completely wrong."
In New York City, one of the few American cities to join in the moment
of silence effort, Mayor of NYC Bloomberg said "I think we all have to
look in the mirror tonight before we go to bed and recognize just how lucky
we are and that not everyone else is so lucky,". So at 8:15 p.m., the crowd
quieted to mark a moment of silence to honor those killed in the earthquake
In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and others for the money usually
spent on pyrotechnics to be donated to relief agencies. Germany's main
party at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin went ahead, but the revelers were
urged on big television screens to donate to UNICEF. TV stations turned
their New Year's Eve galas into charity events for tsunami victims, raising
In Austria, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel urged people to forgo fireworks. The city of Innsbruck canceled its display in a silent vigil. Their Mayor Hilde Zach called the decision "a sign of solidarity" to mark "the great loss of human life."
Sweden, Norway, Finland all flew flags at half mast to start their New Year as a mark of respect for the disaster.
In London, moments before midnight, the crowds of over 100 thousand fell silent for two minutes in memory of the lives lost in Asia. As Big Ben struck midnight, a huge fireworks display filled the sky above the River Thames, casting a brilliant glow over West End.
In Paris, the City fathers initiated 480 scarf-like strips of black
cloth to be hung along the Champs-Elysees and on light posts at the nearby
Place de la Concorde a deliberately poignant and touching gesture to victims.
In Rome, Italian authorities asked citizens to make donations to the
relief fund for the victims rather than their usual celebrations. ìThis
cannot be a New Years like other onesî said Romeís Mayor Veltroni. ìThis
must be a New Years of Solidarity.î
In Australiaís capitol of Canbarra citizens raised $500,000 and paused
in their New Years celebration to reflect on the disaster.
At South Bank Parklands in Brisbane's city, about
In Sweden, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson called for national
solidarity amid muted New Year's celebrations following the devastating
In Scotland, there was a subdued mood also on the street's of Edinburgh, where more than 100,000 citizens converged to celebrate the traditional New Years Eve Hogmanay festival. The revelers paused their festivities and marked the disaster with a minute of silence.
In Istanbul, with memories of their own massive earthquake that rocked
north-western Turkey in 1999 and killed more than 18,000, they cancelled
their concert and firework display.
In Asia, many were too busy counting the dead, feeding survivors and
combating disease to even think about partying and festivities.
Even in the far distant Caribbean, one of the region's largest New Year's Eve celebrations on the British territory of Jost Van Dyke was enlightened enough to be punctuated by silence.
Some Plans cancelled
Cyprus cancelled celebrations and money that would have been spent at New Year parties in the capital Nicosia and the port town of Limassol is now donated towards relief funds.
A New Year's Day march in Hong Kong has been postponed and people there instead plan to raise funds for tsunami victims.
In Sri Lanka, where more than 28,500 people died, President Chandrika
Kumaratunga has cancelled all New
Thailand has called off outdoor celebrations in memory
In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has
In Hong Kong, where disgruntled residents are used to marking public holidays with anti-government protests, political parties across the spectrum decided to postpone a New Year's Day march and instead planned to raise funds for tsunami victims. Now, in Hong Kong, local musicians and celebrities are staging a New Years Day fundraising show.
Nearly everywhere celebrations were held, moments of
In China, the state-run television canceled its live New Year's Eve
Malaysia banned public celebrations; the Maldives, parts of Southern India, all were too overwhelmed by the tragedy to welcome the New Year. Pramech Goel - an events manager with India Habitat Center in New Delhi said: "We have canceled all the New Year's Eve celebration as a mark of respect to the dead and to people who have lost their lives and others who have been displaced."
Prayer services across the region were packed. Muslim,
Other countries went ahead with long-planned parties and fireworks displays,
but the tsunami and its victims were never far from people's thoughts.
+++ All Planet Network Jan 1 2005
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