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Sunday, September 19, 1999 Published at 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK


Bridges blocked to 'millennium revellers'

Millions of people are expected to flock to London

London's main bridges could be closed during the millennium celebrations - to stop people jumping off.

Tower Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and other central London bridges will be closed for up to six hours either side of midnight, it has been reported.

Emergency organisations fear that people will take the traditional dunking in Trafalgar Square a step further and try dunking themselves in the freezing and fast-flowing Thames.

Millions of people will be drawn to the river on millennium night to watch the spectacular "River of Fire" display from Greenwich to Battersea.

Minister for London Nick Raynsford has been overseeing a wide range of safety procedures, including closing the bridges, it has been reported.

[ image: A
A "River of Fire" will illuminate the Thames
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "There is going to be a huge number of people in central London and our prime concern is public safety.

"We have yet to get the final arrangements, but I understand that closing the bridges is being considered.

"It could contribute to public safety and ease congestion."

The Port of London Authority and the police intend to have rescue boats stationed every few hundred yards on the Thames where fireworks will be launched from barges and flares will set the river aglow.

As Big Ben strikes midnight, the "River of Fire", creating the illusion of a 60-metre-high flame will speed along the Thames as 300mph.

The fireworks that follow will be so spectacular that they will be visible from space, say officials.

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