Sweden has seen in the New Year by candlelight, with thousands gathering in the capital to remember the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster.
The nation is bracing itself for what could be the worst loss of human life in its modern history. And, in a park in central Stockholm, Prime Minister Goran Persson called for national solidarity. Some 1,000 Swedes are estimated to have died. Around 3,500 others are missing. January 1 is a day of mourning in the country, with flags flying at half mast. The gesture has been mirrored in Norway, Denmark and Finland, which are also missing hundreds of their nationals. Elsewhere, New Year was typically spectacular on the Champs Elysees but behind the bright lights, Paris paid tribute to the tsunami victims. Black crepe was draped on the trees lining the famous boulevard. France fears the number of its citizens killed could reach 250. In Germany too, the disaster was not forgotten. Near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, flags flew at half mast. London also made sure it remembered the victims. UK authorities have raised the official death toll to 35. Hundreds more Britons are still missing.