Live 8 text entries heading for a million

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Live 8 organisers received nearly a million text message entries in just a few hours today from people hoping to win tickets for the star-studded concert.

Live 8 organisers received nearly a million text message entries in just a few hours today from people hoping to win tickets for the star-studded concert.

The competition was launched at 8am and a spokesman said they hoped the million mark would be passed by the end of lunchtime today.

The event in London's Hyde Park - featuring Madonna, Robbie Williams and Paul McCartney - will draw attention to poverty and debt in the developing world.

Members of the public can win a pair of the 150,000 tickets available by texting the answer to a straightforward question.

The spokesman said today: "We are almost at a million and by the end of lunch hour we are expecting a million.

"When everyone's having their lunch breaks, we are expecting another surge. Live 8 texting tops a million in five hours. We are delighted at the fantastic response."

He said it was not a "first come, first served" competition and anyone texting between now and midnight on Sunday would have an equal chance.

Tens of thousands texted in their answers in the 10 minutes after the competition was launched this morning.

Bob Geldof appealed to the nation to take part and help end the spectre of "children dying on our television screens".

Appearing on GMTV, he said: "This country can maybe stop that. It's too great an opportunity to miss and I think we are going to do it."

He said it would be a chance for people to feel they were "changing the world a little bit" and for the whole country to feel it was "doing something together".

"We have gone on this long journey together over 20 years," he said.

"It is finally going to pitch up against the doors of the leaders of the world's richest countries at the beginning of July.

"Honestly, what we can maybe do is just change this world for the better."

Geldof said people should not despair if they do not win tickets as there are plans to screen the July 2 event live at parks across the country.

Asked about rumours of a Spice Girls reunion for the concert, he said he had spoken to band member Geri Halliwell last night, and they were "trying really hard" to do it.

"There is a great willingness but they have a past. With divorced couples, it takes years to be friends again."

Asked about suggestions that the event would not make a difference, he said: "I genuinely think it is doing, otherwise I wouldn't bother."

Geldof appealed to people to text for tickets, saying: "Please get on your texts. Go for it! We will, I promise you, tilt this world a little bit on its side."

People wanting tickets must answer the following question: The forthcoming G8 summit is being held near which city this July? A) Berlin, B) Moscow, C) Edinburgh.

They can text A, B or C to the telephone number 84599 between 8am this morning and midnight on June 12.

A computer will randomly select winners to receive a pair of tickets from among those who get the answer right.

Five free concerts will take place simultaneously in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Philadelphia on July 2.

Afterwards Geldof wants people to head for Edinburgh in time for an anti-poverty "party" four days later, which he is calling "The Long Walk to Justice".

Police have been concerned by Geldof's call for one million protesters to descend on the city to coincide with the G8 summit of world leaders at Gleneagles in Perthshire on July 6-8.

Today the National Secular Society voiced its protest over the Rome event after the Pope was invited to attend.

The society is pointing to the Vatican's refusal to condone the use of condoms, saying it has helped spread HIV in Africa.