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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 January, 2005, 11:57 GMT
Fans snap up tsunami gig tickets
queue at the stadium
Fans queued for hours for tickets
More than half of the tickets for a Live Aid-style concert in Cardiff for the Asian tsunami disaster appeal have been snapped up.

Around 20,000 tickets for the 22 January gig at the Millennium Stadium were sold within the first hour on Saturday.

Performers already confirmed include Eric Clapton, Lemar, and Jools Holland, along with Welsh artists Feeder, Katherine Jenkins, and Aled Jones. Phone and online purchases are being taken 24 hours a day.

"We are over the moon. This shows that people want to come together to pay their respects"
Paul Sergeant, Millennium Stadium manager
Tickets cost 30, 22.50, and 15. Phone lines were engaged as soon as they opened at 1100 GMT, though many thousands of tickets were bought online.

The booking line number is 08705 582 582.

Tickets were also being advertised on the internet auction site Ebay, with many sellers stating that any profits would be donated to the disaster fund.

Crowds began queuing at the Millennium Stadium entrance on Saturday morning, only to be told initially that none would be available directly from the venue.

But so many people turned up that stadium staff decided to create a makeshift box office in the lobby.

Stadium manager Paul Sergeant said music-lovers had been buying tickets for the "truly historic and deserving event" as soon as they became available.

"We are over the moon," he said. "We have a good line-up, but this shows that people want to come together to pay their respects and mark the tsunami disaster."

Mr Sergeant said organisers were in discussions with broadcasters about televising the event.

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton was one of the first to agree to play
Cardiff Council and South Wales police were helping to fast-track the necessary processes to get the event up and running.

The Treasury announced on Saturday that VAT on charity concerts and records for the Asian tsunami disaster would be paid back to the appeal.

The UK Government will make a special donation to the Disaster Emergency Committee to offset the VAT charged on ventures specifically designed to raise cash for the appeal.

Mr Sergeant said the stadium's website had received 485,000 hits since the idea of a concert at the stadium was first raised.

He said: "We want to raise some money. We have a venue - the largest indoor stadium in Europe - and it's vacant.

"It's not on the same scale as Live Aid but it's still a monumental event none the less.

"We have acts on the verge of saying yes. I don't want to confirm anyone as a yes until we have a confirmation. "

Mr Sergeant said that a team of people had been working since the new year bank holiday to ensure the concert plan came off.

The venue will have space for up to 65,000 people on the day.

The 22 January date was fixed because it was the last date available before the stadium takes delivery of the pallets of grass which form the pitch.

Digital Music Awards winner Lemar will star
The venue hosts Wales' 2005 Six Nations rugby tournament opening game, against England, on Saturday 4 February.

The Disasters Emergency Committee has said that people in Wales have contributed an estimated 7m to help the victims of the tsunami.

The generosity has been praised by the charities working in the disaster zone, and that figure is expected to rise sharply as fund raising continues across the country.

On Friday, many schoolchildren made contributions to the fund by paying to wear casual clothes to lessons.

Meanwhile, police in Cardiff are investigating after a collection tin containing donations for the tsunami appeal was stolen.

CCTV camera recorded a man taking the tin from the Four Seasons Greetings shop in the city.

And Gwent Police are appealing for information about a conman who has been pocketing money he collected in aid of the tsunami appeal.

The man, thought to be in his late teens, made door-to-door collections in the village of Cwm in Blaenau Gwent on Monday and Tuesday of this week.


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