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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 13:48 GMT
UK millennium bug fails to bite

Early indications look good


Fears of the UK grinding to a halt at the stroke of midnight failed to materialise, and there are still no major signs of the dreaded millennium bug.

Emergency calls to Britain's main police force were delayed for a few minutes overnight by a computer glitch at Scotland Yard.

Into 2000
But the problem quickly resolved itself with no clear indication whether the millennium bug was to blame, a spokeswoman said.

In another computer hiccup, BBC Radio 1's website carried the date 1 January 1900.

However, although it remains early days - Y2K experts say the real test will come next week when millions of office workers return to work after the Christmas and New Year break - the signs are that the bug has failed to materialise.

BBC correspondent Stephen Evans, at the government's Y2K co-ordination centre in Whitehall, says: "The millennium bug is either dead or very, very dormant.

"There have been absolutely no reports of the millennium bug in Britain."

'Great deal of work'

Home Secretary Jack Straw defended the decision to spend millions of pounds tackling the bug.

"A great deal of work was done to spot the fact there was a bug and deal with it," he told BBC's Radio 4's Today programme in an interview during the Dome celebrations.

"We all would have looked very silly if we said there wasn't a problem, lay back and then the computer systems on which the whole of modern life now depend crashed."

A man buys a Many South Koreans bought emergency food and candles just in case


Margaret Beckett, the minister in charge of overseeing the transition to Y2K, said:"As people go back to work we're likely to get a better picture of what's happening. We've come though it better than we dared have hoped."

A millennium bug catastrophe would have manifested itself first in telecommunications, power, transport and the media.

But none of these sectors were affected. Terrestrial and cellular phones showed no signs of failing - although congestion was inevitable - and there have been no reports of power cuts, TV or radio blackouts.

Tubes continued to run throughout the night in London and - unless cancelled because of staff shortages - late night buses, trains and planes were also unaffected.

Water, gas and electricity companies also reported a "business as usual" message, as did the Bank of England, which is overseeing the operations of the High Street banks.

Cash machines are believed to be operating normally, although many have run out of cash because of a late rush by wary customers.

Panic over

The Electricity Association, which represents the UK's power industry, said: "While only a short period has elapsed since the date change the electricity industry is confident that there will be no significant millennium bug problems affecting UK power supplies."

Fewer planes than normal were in the air at the stroke of midnight but there have been no reported problems with aircraft.


Bank New Zealand, one of the first countries to see 2000, has had few problems
British Airways, which had 15 planes in the sky at 0000 GMT said pilots had reported nothing out of the ordinary.

The millennium bug is caused by many computers and software programmes only using two digits to recognise year dates - for example using 99 for 1999.

The arrival of 2000 and the 00 date digits could confuse computer systems, raising fears of failures.

Millions spent

But most businesses and institutions have taken the bug very seriously in the last five years and have hired computer experts to check and recheck their systems.

British Airways spent 100m while the electricity industry spent over 200m.

The rest of the world has also enjoyed a bug-free New Year so far, with authorities from New Zealand to New York reporting no significant problems.

New Zealand was the first major industrialised country to roll into the year 2000 and there were no signs of a bug alarm.

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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
US faces Y2K bug
01 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
Y2K viruses alert
01 Jan 00 |  UK
UK parties into 21st century
29 Dec 99 |  UK
UK unveils Y2K bug website
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
Hackers target UK rail information

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