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World welcomes New Year 2016 [videos]





Fireworks explode in front of Malaysia's landmark building, Petronas Twin Towers, during the New Year's Eve celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP)

Fireworks explode from Taiwan's tallest skyscraper, the Taipei 101, during New Year celebrations in Taipei, January 1, 2016. REUTERS

Fireworks explode from Taiwan's tallest skyscraper, the Taipei 101, during New Year celebrations in Taipei, January 1, 2016. REUTERS

 Fireworks are seen over the city's skyline in Hong Kong on January 1, 2016 as part of the 2016 new year celebrations. AFP

Fireworks are seen over the city's skyline in Hong Kong on January 1, 2016 as part of the 2016 new year celebrations. AFP

Fireworks explode in Marina Bay against the skyline of Singapore during New Year's Day celebrations January 1, 2016.  REUTERS

People release balloons to celebrate the New Year at the Prince Park Tower in Tokyo on January 1, 2016. More than 1,000 balloons were released, carrying with them new year wishes.  AFP

People release balloons to celebrate the New Year with Tokyo Tower in the background  in Tokyo, early Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Japan celebrated the start of 2016, the Year of the Monkey in the Japanese Zodiac. (AP)

People release balloons at the turn of the New Year at a hotel in front of the landmark Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan, January 1, 2016. REUTERS

People hold balloons to release them at the turn of the New Year at a hotel in front of the landmark Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan, December 31, 2015, 2016. REUTERS

 New Year's Eve kicked off in Sydney, but tightened security muted revellries in Europe with Brussels scrapped celebrations and fireworks were cancelled in Paris.

as fears of threats cast a pall.

Australia's biggest city, Sydney, traditionally the first to host a major event to ring in the New Year, welcomed 2016 with spectacular midnight fireworks as crowds thronged to harbourside vantage points.

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia's largest city ushers in the New Year, January 1, 2016.    ( REUTERS)

Pyrotechnics burst over the city in a colourful display which was expected to draw more than one million people, ahead of the chimes of midnight moving across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas.

In the heart of Europe, annual festivities and fireworks in Brussels have been cancelled as the Belgian capital -- home to Nato and the European Union -- remains on high alert.

Fireworks explode over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year's Eve fireworks display  in Sydney, Australian, Friday, January 1, 2016.(AP)

"It's better not to take any risks," mayor Yvan Mayeur said.

Belgian officials are battling terror on two fronts -- with police on Thursday detaining six more people over an alleged New Year attack plot in Brussels as well as arresting a tenth suspect over last month's massacre in Paris.

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia's largest city ushers in the New Year, January 1, 2016.  (REUTERS)

Officials said two men had already been formally charged with terrorism-related offences and that police detained six more people on Thursday for questioning over an alleged plot to strike 'emblematic sites'  in the Belgian capital during the end-of-year festivities.

Paris, still reeling from the November 13 slaughter of 130 people, has also cancelled its fireworks display.

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia's largest city ushers in the New Year, January 1, 2016.  (REUTERS)

But authorities agreed France's biggest public gathering since the attacks can go ahead on the Champs Elysees avenue, with bolstered security.

"The people of Paris and France need this symbolic passage into the New Year," said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo."After what our city has lived through, we have to send a signal to the world," she told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.
Fireworks light up the sky over Sydney's Opera House (L) and Harbour Bridge during New Year celebrations in Sydney on January 1, 2016.  AFP

High security

Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and other Asian cities may rival Sydney's pyrotechnic splash, but Brunei will offer a sober evening after banning Christmas.

Jakarta remains on high alert after anti-terror police foiled detailed plans for an alleged New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the traditional fireworks show on January 1, 2016. AFP

Turkish police have detained two Daesh suspects allegedly planning to stage attacks in the centre of the capital Ankara which is expected to be packed on New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, in Moscow police will for the first time close off Red Square where tens of thousands of revellers traditionally gather.

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the traditional fireworks show on January 1, 2016. AFP

"It's no secret that Moscow is one of the choice targets for terrorists," Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said recently.

In Britain, Scotland Yard said there will be around 3,000 officers across central London in what is reported to be an unprecedented anti-terror security effort.

Revellers dance in front of lit sparklers while celebrating New Year's Eve in Paranaque city, metro Manila December 31, 2015. REUTERS

"Our plans are purely precautionary and not as a result of any specific intelligence," said Superintendent Jo Edwards, spokeswoman for Scotland Yard.

Fireworks were banned in towns and cities across Italy, in some cases because of a recent spike in air pollution but also because of fears that, in the current climate, sudden loud bangs could cause crowds to panic.

The number of police on duty in Italy has been increased by 30 per cent compared to last year although the Interior Ministry stressed: "There has been no specific alert."

In Madrid, thousands of people will flock to Puerta del Sol square, however, police will limit the number allowed in to just 25,000.

Berliners will do better with about a million expected at the Brandenburg Gate for a free mega-street party.

Party at the pyramids

Cairo, meanwhile, is trying desperately to attract tourists to bolster the economy. The government is staging celebrations in front of the pyramids near the Egyptian capital, with ambassadors, artists and intellectuals all invited.

Egypt has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising but was further hit by the October 31 crash of a Russian airliner over the Sinai killing 224 people.

On the nearby Gaza Strip, Hamas has banned public New Year's Eve parties. Police spokesman Ayman Al Batinji told AFP such celebrations were "incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion".

In stark contrast, Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is hoping to reclaim its mantle as host of the best beach parties in Africa after Ebola scared people away. The city of 1.2 million was deserted 12 months ago during the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

"This New Year's Eve I am going to dance and party until the cock crows," said 35-year-old Franklyn Smith. Celebrations away from the palm-fringed beaches will be muted, however, as people remember almost 4,000 victims of the epidemic.

In New York, despite a pledge of tight security for Times Square, another million people are expected to turn out to see the ball descend. This year's show includes performances by artists Demi Lovato, Daya and Jessie J.

New Year revellers unfazed by terror attack worries

In Bangkok, police-flanked partygoers ushered in the New Year at the site of a deadly bombing that took place just months ago.

In Paris, residents recovering from their city's own deadly attacks enjoyed scaled-back celebrations.

And in Belgium's capital, authorities anxious after thwarting what they say was a holiday terror plot cancelled festivities altogether.

As the final hours of 2015 drew to a close, many were bidding a weary and wary adieu to a year marred by attacks that left nations reeling and nerves rattled. Still, most places are forging ahead with their celebrations as many refuse to let jitters ruin the joy of the holiday. "We still have this fear but we need to continue to live," said Parisian Myriam Oukik. "We will celebrate."

A look at how people around the world are doing exactly that:


Simultaneous fireworks displays erupted along Sydney's famed harbour, where people crowded onto balconies, into waterside parks and onto boats as they jockeyed for the best view, whooping with joy as the first pyrotechnics exploded.

More than one million people were expected to watch the glittery display, featuring a multicoloured firework ‘waterfall’ cascading off the Harbour Bridge and effects in the shapes of butterflies, octopuses and flowers.

Australian officials, struggling to contain the threat from home-grown extremists, encouraged revellers to enjoy the evening and assured them that thousands of extra police were patrolling major cities.

"Don't change your way of life," Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle urged residents of his city. "Don't let events from around the world challenge the way that we live."


New Zealand, the first nation with a sizable population to celebrate the New Year, counted down the seconds to midnight with a giant digital clock on Auckland's landmark Sky Tower. Horns blared and crowds cheered as the tower was lit up with fireworks, with colours shifting from green to red to white.


New Year's Eve is Japan's biggest holiday, and millions crammed into trains to flee the cities for their hometowns to slurp down bowls of noodles, symbolizing longevity, while watching the annual Red and White NHK song competition.

Tokyo is on special alert for security issues this year, with posters in subways and other public spaces warning people to keep their eyes open for suspicious packages or activities.


South Koreans mark New Year's Eve with traditional bell ringing ceremonies, fireworks and outdoor music and dance performances. Thousands of people, including North Korean refugees, are expected to gather at a town near the border with rival North Korea to watch one of the ceremonies and wish for peaceful Korean unification.

North Korea was expected to mark the new year with a speech by leader Kim Jong Un, which outside observers use to pore over for insight on the reclusive country's policy direction.


An official New Year's Eve celebration was planned near Beijing's Forbidden City with performances and fireworks, and one of China's most popular TV stations will broadcast a gala from the National Stadium, otherwise known as the iconic Bird's Nest.

For security reasons, Shanghai closed subways near the scenic waterfront Bund because of a stampede last New Year's Eve that killed 36 people and blemished the image of China's most prosperous metropolis.

Beijing's shopping and bar areas are under a holiday security alert that started before Christmas and has resulted in armed police standing guard at popular commercial areas. Police commonly issue such alerts during holiday periods.


Security was beefed up in Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, where fireworks ushered in the new year at a historical square as well as at the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the world's tallest buildings.

Malaysian authorities detained more than 150 suspects linked to the Daesh group over the past two years, some of whom were allegedly plotting to launch attacks in strategic areas of Kuala Lumpur.


No specific threats timed for New Year's revelries were detected in the capital, Manila, or other major cities, although government forces have been on alert due to the presence of small but violent Muslim militant groups in the country's south.

Concern on New Year's Eve is instead focused on the use of illegal fireworks, which last year injured more than 850 people. Shopping malls and cities have organised fireworks displays to discourage people from lighting their own firecrackers. A huge religious sect, the Iglesia ni Cristo, will attempt to break the world record for the largest fireworks display and the highest number of sparklers to be lit in one place.

An annual thanksgiving procession was held a day earlier than usual on Thursday to prevent injuries from mounds of trash and unexploded firecrackers that litter Manila's streets after New Year's revelries. A larger procession of the statue will be held on January 9.


Less than six months after a pipe bomb killed 20 people at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, tens of thousands ushered in the new year at the same intersection with live music and a countdown.

Up to 5,000 police were present in the area, with explosive ordnance disposal experts making a sweep ahead of time.


Indonesia was on high alert after authorities said last week that they had foiled a plot by militants to attack government officials, foreigners and others. About 150,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed to safeguard churches, airports and other public places.

National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Anton Charliyan said security is focused on anticipating attacks in vulnerable regions including the capital, Jakarta, the tourist resort of Bali and restive West Papua, where President Joko Widodo is celebrating the New Year.

More than 9,000 police are deployed in Bali, the site of Indonesia's deadliest terror attack, which killed 202 people in 2002.


Hotels and restaurants in and around New Delhi were advertising grand party plans with live bands, dancing and plenty of drinks.

With security being a concern, police and anti-terror squads on Tuesday conducted mock terror-attack drills at a crowded shopping mall and food court.


In the megacity of Dubai, three separate firework displays are set to wow spectators. The show starts from the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828 metres (905 yards). Already, organisers say the tower has been fitted with 400,000 LED lights and 1.6 tonns of fireworks will be used in the display.

From there, fireworks also will light up the sky around the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and later down near the Dubai Marina. Fireworks also will be on display in Abu Dhabi.


Nada Fayez, 46, a mother of four teenagers, planned to celebrate the New Year at home with her family. She said the security situation in Jordan is stable and she would have no concerns if her sons and daughter preferred to celebrate outside their home.

Security has been beefed up in the streets of Amman, as well as in malls and hotels.


Police in Kenya urged vigilance as many people prepared to celebrate in hotels and watch midnight fireworks displays. Unauthorised fireworks were banned as a safety hazard "in view of the elevated threat of terrorism," police said.

"Kenyans should remain vigilant at all times and know that we are facing a real terror threat since the split of Al Shabaab into two groups, one supporting Al Qaida and another Daesh," Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told The Associated Press. "We are facing a real terror threat because these two groups are struggling to outsmart each other. This therefore is not a time to drop our guard, particularly during this festive season."


The French are still recovering from the November 13 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris, and authorities were prepared for a possible worst-case scenario on New Year's Eve. About 60,000 police and troops were deployed across the country on Thursday.

"The same troops who used to be in Mali, Chad, French Guyana or the Central African Republic are now ensuring the protection of French people," said Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Paris cancelled its usual fireworks display and instead displayed a 5-minute video performance at the Arc de Triomphe just before midnight, relayed on screens along the Champs Elysée.

In previous years, more than 600,000 French and foreign visitors gathered on the famous avenue for New Year's Eve. This year, it will be closed to vehicles for just one hour instead of the usual three.

"It was a very strange year and we just want 2016 to be different, simply a normal one," said Parisian Francoise Malterre. "It does not need to be an excellent one, but just a normal one."


Authorities in Belgium's capital cancelled planned New Year's Eve fireworks amid fears of a terrorist attack.

The decision came one day after authorities arrested two men in connection with an alleged plot to unleash holiday season attacks against police, soldiers and popular locations in Brussels.

Mayor Yvan Mayeur said it would be impossible to screen the thousands of revellers who would otherwise be gathering in Brussels to ring in the new year.


Rio de Janeiro's main soiree on Copacabana Beach will have dual themes: the 100th anniversary of samba music and the kickoff to the Olympics, which the city will host in August. More than 2 million people were expected on the beaches on Thursday.


Around 1 million people were expected to converge on New York City's Times Square for the annual celebration. The party began with musical acts, including Luke Bryan, Charlie Puth, Demi Lovato and Carrie Underwood, and ends with fireworks and the descent of a glittering crystal ball from a rooftop flagpole.

This year's festivities will also be attended by nearly 6,000 New York City police officers, including members of a new specialised counterterrorism unit.

People usually begin filling the square and adjoining blocks before sundown for the televised spectacle. Everyone arriving gets screened for weapons with a metal-detecting wand.


Officials are urging revellers to leave bags, backpacks and strollers at home as police ready for hundreds of thousands of partiers to flood the Las Vegas Strip. It's not a first-of-its-kind request, but it's getting extra emphasis following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and, more recently, a driver in Las Vegas who witnesses say intentionally plowed into pedestrians, killing one person.

Nearly 1,000 uniformed officers and an undisclosed number of undercover officers are posted along the popular 4-mile-long, casino-filled corridor.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman lamented the prospect that fear might keep people from celebrating New Year's Eve, or any event.

"It can't be. We cannot let that rule," she said.