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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 January, 2004, 16:52 GMT
Tiber dive marks Italy's New Year
Diver Marco Fois
Lifeguard Marco Fois was among the bridge divers
Four Italians have dived into the River Tiber in Rome from a height of more than 50 feet (17 metres).

The event is a New Year tradition dating back to 1946, when a stuntman trying to find work leapt into the water from the Cavour Bridge.

Since then, it has caught on as an annual event.

"I'm dedicating this to peace in the world and to the hope that these terrorist attacks stop - these attacks that make humanity live in terror," said one diver, Aldo Corrieri.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch four men plunge from the bridge.

Dangers

The stunt is regarded as dangerous, as the waters of the Tiber are cold and muddy and the river is not really deep enough for a dive from such a height.

"The height is pretty important, especially if compared to the river depth which is very little," said Mr Corrieri's nephew, 20-year old Riccardo Russi.

"Freezing weather and dirt increase the risk, together with the fact that they do not allow us to prepare ourselves, undress properly and warm up.

"But this is an important tradition which we try to carry on year after year, especially my uncle who's done it for 32 years. We try not to let this tradition die."

The first man to carry out the stunt was known as Mr OK, an unemployed lifeguard who wanted to find work in the film industry.




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