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Fri Dec 30, 2011, 01:21 PM

Samoa, Tokelau cross international date line


APIA, Samoa (AP) Sirens wailed and fireworks exploded in the skies over Samoa as the tiny South Pacific nation jumped forward in time, crossing westward over the international date line and effectively erasing Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, from the country's calendar.

Samoans who had gathered around the main clock tower in the capital Apia cheered and clapped as the clock struck midnight on Thursday, Dec. 29, instantly transporting the country 24 hours ahead to Saturday, Dec. 31. The switch, also being observed by neighboring Tokelau, is meant to align the islands' time with key trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

The time jump means that Samoa's 186,000 citizens, and the 1,500 in the three-atoll United Nations dependency of Tokelau, will now be the first in the world to ring in the new year, rather than the last.

The moment was greeted with celebrations across Samoa. Fireworks danced across the sky and police, ambulance and fire truck sirens wailed throughout Apia to signal the change. Drivers circled the clock tower blaring their horns, and prayer services were held across the country. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/52283026?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p



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