Happy New Year to Samoa and Christmas Island in Kiribati
As it hit 10 am in the UK, those in the South Pacific officially welcomed in the new decade. Kiritimati – or Christmas Island – and Samoa both lie immediately west of the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and have started the ball rolling for New Year’s revelers across the globe. The Pacific island nation of Kiribati contains 3,200 coral atolls strewn across more than three million square miles, straddling the equator. As the new year begins, Kiribati finds itself on the front line of the battle against climate change, facing drought and rising sea levels. In 2020, a project funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Green Climate Fund and Kiribati’s government brings hope of providing safe and climate-secure drinking water to the main island of Tarawa, which is home to most of the nation’s 110,000 people. In Samoa, New Year’s Eve was more somber than usual. While fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia, the end of the year was a time of sadness and remembrance.
A measles epidemic in late 2019 claimed 81 lives, mostly children under five. With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named as its Person of the Year health workers who fought the outbreak. The newspaper wrote: ‘We have experienced extreme sadness and sorrow. Since the first measles death, the pain has only deepened. But amidst much hopelessness and tears, we have also seen the best of mankind in this country’s response.’ Next up it will be the turn of partygoers in New Zealand who will celebrate the start of 2020 at 11am UK time. Then at 1pm here, the clock will strike midnight across much of Australia, including Sydney, where its spectacular harbour fireworks display is going ahead despite the deadly bushfire crisis. Pressure has been building on Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cancel the display but he has vowed to go ahead to show the world the country’s resilience. Wildfires in the past several weeks have killed 12 people and razed more than 1,000 homes, with New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, bearing the brunt.
But while the City of Sydney Council has approved tonight’s fireworks, fire authorities warned they could be canceled if catastrophic wildfire conditions were declared. As the clock strikes 12 in London tonight, 12,000 fireworks – including 2,000 from the London Eye on the River Thames – will be set off to see in the New Year. Big Ben’s chimes will also be heard for the first time in a year amid renovation work to the clock tower. Outlying American islands in the South Pacific, which are just east of the International Date Line, will be the last to welcome 2020 at midday on Wednesday UK time – more than 24 hours after Samoa.
Source Metro UK