NO FANFARE FOR LAST SUNSET OF 2000 AT FALEALUPO, SAMOA

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (December 31, 2000 - PIDP/CPIS)---Cloudy skies covered the setting of the sun at Falealupo village on Samoa's big island of Savai‘i Sunday, the site where more than 1,000 visitors and journalists gathered last year to watch the last sunset of the 20th Century.

The official last sunset of the second-millennium brought only rain to this village of more than 500 people on the most western tip of Samoa and close to the International Dateline, considered by the U.S. Naval Observatory as the last place on earth where the sun sets.

When the sun set last year, thousands on the shoreline of Falealupo village witness four different colors of the sun - yellow, white, violet and blue.

This year residents were attending late afternoon church service as there was no sun visible, due to cloudy skies following four days of rain that drenched both Samoa and American Samoa and forced weather forecasting to issue flood advisories.

A village high chief said in a telephone interview that New Year's Eve falling on a Sunday played a role in the lack of activities in the village. He said the Samoa government decided not to organize any elaborate celebration activities this year but instead "for the people of both Samoa and American Samoa - built on Christian foundations - to focus more on the religious side of ushering in the year 2001."

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