As the unspeakable horrors of the disaster in South
East Asia sink in, the world greeted the new year in a subdued mood
and with heavy heart, remembering the tens of thousands who became
innocent victims of the unforgiving and merciless rage of the tsunamis
of the previous weekend.
New Year's celebrations across Asia were cancelled
or scaled back, and revellers asked to donate to relief efforts.
In Sri Lanka, all New Year’s festivities were
stopped and bars closed, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono cancelled official celebrations in Jakarta, called for unity
and urged his nation to pray together.
In Thailand, tsunami survivors tearfully embraced
at a candlelight vigil in Phuket as 2005 began, but New Year’s
parties at bars there soon roared back to life.
In New York, celebrations were more up-beat when
the glittering crystal ball descended over Times Square as hundreds of
thousands of revellers shouted out the final seconds of 2004.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell and New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed the button to start the ball drop at
the celebration that marked its 100th anniversary this year.
Confetti drifted across the square and fireworks
lit the sky as partygoers cheered, hugged and kissed in the first
minutes of 2005.
In contrast, the Champs Elysees in Paris was draped
in black and Brussels cancelled its fireworks display as countries
around Europe lowered their flags to half-mast.
In Germany’s capital, as many as 600,000
revellers welcomed in the new year at the Brandenburg Gate after the
Berlin Philharmonic dedicated its traditional New Year’s Eve concert
to the tsunami victims.
In India, the film industry announced it would hold
a "Bollywood extravaganza" to help those devastated by the
The first people to welcome in 2005 were the
two-man crew of the International Space Station (ISS). Russian
cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and American astronaut Leroy Chiao
celebrated as they hurtled past the International Date Line at 1102
"Every 24 hours the ISS flies 16 times around
the Earth, which means the crew says farewell to the old year 15 times
and meets the new year 16 times," said a spokesman at the flight
control centre near Moscow.
Only one celebration was planned, however, at 350
kilometres above Earth, but the crew was assured a hearty meal to mark
the occasion: an unmanned cargo ship docked at the station on
Christmas Day with urgently needed food.
In Ukraine, the holiday festivities took on a
political air as president-elect Viktor Yuschenko joined the
celebration in Kiev’s Independence Square, where his supporters
staged protests that led to a rerun of the presidential vote last
In London, 150,000 people along the Thames observed
two minutes of silence for tsunami victims before fireworks were set
In Istanbul , the municipal celebrations were
cancelled, including a concert by some of Turkey’s most famous pop
stars and fireworks at Taksim Square.
In Rome, Pope John Paul II prayed for worldwide peace
and at midnight held a Mass for the tsunami victims.