GeriGündem Joyous crowds bear witness to Obama's historic inauguration
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Joyous crowds bear witness to Obama's historic inauguration

Joyous crowds bear witness to Obama's historic inauguration
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Joyous cheers echoed around the heart of Washington Tuesday as a crowd estimated at more than two million people warmed by the excitement of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration welcomed the dawning of a new era. (UPDATED)

The crowd packed Washington's Mall, which stretches 2 miles (3 km) from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial on the Potomac River, and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.        

 

People lining the streets cheered wildly as a motorcade carrying Obama, his wife Michelle, and President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, made its way to the Capitol from the White House.

 

Obama, a Democrat, was sworn in on the steps of the Capitol as the 44th U.S. president, taking over from Bush, a Republican.

 

After the oath, the new president and the new first lady will crane for views of the new president and his family as he rides in an inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House between 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) and 5 p.m (0000 GMT). They will then celebrate into the night at 10 official inaugural balls.

Some was more than a mile from the swearing-in ceremony, watching on giant TV screens erected along the National Mall.

A whopping 409,828 people crowded the Washington subway system as of 9:00 am (1400 GMT) a transport official said, noting the crowd was so large patrons were having trouble exiting some stations near the Mall, AFP reported.

Police have projected crowds ranging between 1 and 2 million for the inauguration. It is possible that attendance could top the 1.2 million people who were at Lyndon Johnsons 1965 inauguration, which is the largest crowd the National Park Service has on record.

Thousands arrived before daylight Tuesday in standing-room-only trains. They carried blankets and wore Obama scarves to ward off the wind chills below 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 and -9 degrees Celcius). 

The subway system which serves the Washington metropolitan area, known as the Metro, opened at 4 a.m., two hours earlier than normal, to serve the expected crush of visitors.

The first trains to reach downtown were crowded though not as densely packed as warnings from officials in the days leading to the inaugural had led many to fear, according to the U.S. media reports.

HIGH SECURITY MEASURES
An unprecedented security operation is underway in and around Washington for Barack Obama's inauguration as the United States' first black president on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The Homeland Security Department said there was no credible threat of an attack but they were prepared for a wide range of potential catastrophes, including a chemical weapons attack.

The Secret Service, responsible for protecting the president, is overseeing the security preparations. Director Mark Sullivan, a 25-year veteran, said Tuesday's inauguration is the biggest event he has been part of.

About 4,000 city police officers will be deployed along with 4,000 from 96 other law enforcement agencies across the country. Members of the Secret Service, FBI and Capitol Police will also be on duty.

A total of 32,000 military personnel will be on duty or on standby. Security measures include intensified patrols of the skies over the capital and rivers bordering the city, closing bridges and sealing off a large area of downtown to vehicles.

The Secret Service has unveiled a state-of-the-art armored presidential limousine that Obama will use during his presidency. Its design is a closely guarded secret, but it is likely resistant to bomb and chemical attacks.

 

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