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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Europe Encounters Few Y2K Problems During First Millennium Weekend

Aired January 2, 2000 - 6:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As many people around the world wrap up their New Year's holiday, the pace will be picking up at international airports, offering the biggest test yet of airline computer systems. Despite the growing sense confidence in the skies and on the ground, there have been some millennium glitches.

CNN's Chris Burns reports on how Y2K has been playing out in Europe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Europe has encountered few Y2K problems during the first millennium weekend. Airports say flights cut back as a precaution are back to normal. London cash machines are spitting out bills for Londoners and tourists catching after-Christmas sales. Trains and subways are running, as well as traffic lights, phones, and other utilities. The British government alone spent $690 million to ensure that.

MIKE GRANNATT, CO-DIRECTOR, U.K. GOVERNMENT MILLENNIUM CENTER: Things don't go right by accident. For instance, here in the U.K., we ran a major assessment program for the national infrastructure. That assessment program looked, of course, first to see what was necessary to do, and there were certainly things that needed to be updated and things that needed to be modified. So we're quite sure that the money was well spent.

(on camera): Businesses say so far, so good. One British store chain reports the most serious problem called into its hotline was when a child cut the cables to the family computer to the keep the Y2K gremlins from getting inside.

(voice-over): Most hospitals are operating just fine, thank you. Three Swedish hospitals say they had millennium bug problems with a piece of heart-monitoring equipment on January 1, but a technician quickly fixed the glitch.

France reported no major problems with Y2K. One small glitch did hit a French defense satellite. Officials say the Syracuse 2, which links Paris with French forces in Kosovo, had trouble with one program, but the defense ministry says it had no effect on troops in the field. In fact, Y2K is the least of France's worries. More than a half-million French remained without power over the weekend because of last week's killer storm. Electric generators used to power the ferris wheels on the Schulzanezee (ph) and other millennium events in Britain are being pressed into service to help out.

The next big test comes Monday, on the first business day of the New Year, when all stores open their doors and the financial world returns to work.

One hopeful sign: Stock and bond markets across Europe have been running trouble-free tests over the weekend.

Chris Burns, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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