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Myanmar’s mysterious Dhammazedi Bell

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The search

As Jonah Fisher reports, some people doubt the bell ever existed, whilst others think the search is cursed

As Jonah Fisher reports, some people doubt the bell ever existed, whilst others think the search is cursed

The fate of the Dhammazedi Bell is one of Myanmar’s murkiest mysteries and for some Burmese a lifelong obsession. Four centuries after the world’s biggest bell was last seen, a new salvage attempt is under way in Yangon (Rangoon), and it’s attracting large crowds.

Cast in the 15th Century, the Dhammazedi Bell was according to popular legend placed alongside the gleaming gold Schwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar(also known as Burma).

Said to have been made of copper, gold and silver, the bell is said to have weighed nearly 300 tonnes (661,400 pounds).

It’s mindboggling figure, about the same as 25 double-decker buses.

Then in 1608 disaster struck.

The Portuguese adventurer and mercenary Filipe de Brito seized the bell with the aim of melting it down to make cannons.

The Dhammazedi Bell was said to be housed at the Schwedagon Pagoda before it was taken

The Tharawaddy Min bell is the biggest one at Schwedagon but is a fraction of the size of Dhammazedi

He had it dragged to the Pegu (now Bago) River and loaded on to a raft, at which point, not entirely surprisingly, it sank.

In the years that followed the legend of the bell has endured, and recovering it has become a point of both Buddhist and Burmese national pride.

There have been at least seven serious attempts in the last 25 years.

Some have involved international teams and sophisticated underwater equipment, but to date no one has been able to accurately pinpoint where the huge bell is.

That’s not diminished enthusiasm among the public.

Source: BBCNews Read and see more about the search

New Year’s Eve

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Here is Brazil it is 11am, but elsewhere in the world the New Year has already been honoured.

In Auckland, New Zealand it is already 2pm on the 1st January, 2013. Their New Year was like this:

Auckland City waterfront view

Auckland City waterfront view – image: journalweek.com

Sydney, Australia just two hours later…

Sydney's famous harbour bridge and opera house

Sydney’s famous harbour bridge and opera house: image wallpapernoise.com

And in Myanmar (formerly Burma) emerging from the cold, New Year for the first time…

Preparing for the countdown in Rangoon

Preparing for the countdown in Rangoon

rangoonmyanmar

Fireworks burst above Yangon’s landmark Shwedagon pagoda as Myanmar : image – boston.com

For some spectacular photos of recent New Years around the world visit boston.com the images are truly magnificent.

Here in Brazil, we still have 13 hours to wait for our Copacabana Beach spectacle. This year an estimated 2 million people will flock to the famous beach for the biggest party in the world.

This clip 1:22 of the 16 minutes of Copacabana’s display last New Year…

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Spitfires in Burma ‘could be found’

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The Spitfires were concealed by the RAF in 1945 to prevent them falling into Japanese hands

British and Burmese authorities could work together to find 20 Spitfires buried in Burma at the end of the World War II, officials say.

The case of the missing planes was raised when PM David Cameron met Burmese President Thein Sein.

A Downing Street source said it was “hoped this will be an opportunity to work with the reforming Burmese government”.

The exact location of the planes is unknown.

The planes were buried in 1945 by the RAF amid fears that they could either be used or destroyed by Japanese forces, but in the intervening years they have not been located.

At the time they were unused, still in crates, and yet to be assembled.

Until a general election in 2010, Burma was ruled for almost half a century by a military junta.

It has been reported that experts from Leeds University and an academic based in Rangoon believe they may have identified the sites where the craft are concealed using sophisticated radar techniques.

On Friday, officials said President Thein Sein was “very enthusiastic” about the prospect of finding and restoring the planes.

A Downing Street source said: “The Spitfire is arguably the most important plane in the history of aviation, playing a crucial role in the Second World War.

“It is hoped this will be an opportunity to work with the reforming Burmese government, uncover, restore and display these fighter planes and get them gracing the skies of Britain once again.”

Source: BBC News

MkVII Spitfires RAF 152 Sqn, Themaw - Burma 1945

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