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Lights out across Asia as world begins Earth Hour

world Updated: Mar 28, 2010 01:51 IST

Sydney's iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge went dark today at the start of Earth Hour, followed by cities across Asia in a global switch-off aimed at revitalising efforts against climate change.

Harbour ferry horns blared to signal the energy-saving event, which is supported by 4,000 cities in a record 125
countries and includes 1,200 famous landmarks from the Forbidden City to the pyramids to the Las Vegas Strip.

"From Brazil to America, to Canada, all the way down to Australia, Japan and India -- it's a really diverse set of
countries taking part this year," Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley said.

Sydney's office buildings plunged into gloom at 8:30 pm (1500 IST), setting off a rolling wave of darkness which will
sweep the globe in a boost for the environmental movement after December's disappointing Copenhagen UN talks.

The WWF-run event had officially begun nearly three hours earlier when New Zealand's Chatham Islands switched off their diesel generators, leaving just 12 street lamps burning. It will eventually end in Samoa after nearly 24 hours.

On the way, most of the world's top landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building and the Leaning
Tower of Pisa, will turn off the lights to show their support for energy conservation.

Beijing's Forbidden City and Bird's Nest Stadium were among the participants along with dozens of cities in China,
the world's biggest carbon polluter, where giant panda Mei Lan is an Earth Hour ambassador.

Hong Kong's renowned neon waterfront dimmed as did office buildings in Jakarta, Seoul and Tokyo.

In Japan, the city of Hiroshima turned off the lights at 30 sites, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, the former exhibition hall was one of the few buildings to survive an atom bomb
attack during World War II.

More than 100 students lit candles and arranged them to spell out "Peace and Eco", on the ground near the dome,
clapping when the backdrop plunged into darkness, a city official said.

About 300 participants gathered in central Jakarta to light hundreds of candles and lanterns set out in the shape of
the number 60 -- representing the 60 minutes of Earth Hour.

About 100 buildings in the Indonesian capital had pledged to turn off their lights.

Indian cities Delhi and Mumbai also joined the switch-off.