Revelers start ringing in 2014 with fireworks
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Exploding fireworks sprayed from Sydney's iconic opera house and harbor bridge at midnight today as the world began ushering in a new year.
More than 1 million people crammed the Sydney Harbor foreshore on a warm summer night to watch Sydney's renowned annual pyrotechnics show, which appeared to live up to its billing as the city's most extravagant. Fireworks launched from four sails of the Sydney Opera House for the first time in more than a decade.
Dubai later will try to create the world's largest fireworks show to ring in 2014.
Closer to the edge of the International Dateline, New Zealand bid farewell to 2013 two hours before Sydney with fireworks erupting from Auckland's Sky Tower as cheering revelers danced in the streets of the South Pacific island nation's largest city.
Dubai, home to world's tallest tower, is known for its glitz, glamor and over-the-top achievements, and this New Year's Eve the city is planning to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show ever.
Organizers plan to light up the city's coastline with a flying falcon made out of fireworks that moves across a massive man-made palm-shaped island alongside a countdown in fireworks. Organizers said they also will create a burst of light out of fireworks to imitate a sunrise and dazzle spectators with a United Arab Emirates flag that also could break records for being the largest ever made out of fireworks.
The 6-minute extravaganza will include 500,000 fireworks from 400 firing locations, all synchronized by 100 computers from stations across the city, said Barrett Wissman, co-chairman of IMG Artists that is managing the event. Guinness World Record officials will be on hand to measure the scale of the event.
Wissman said the display will cover 30 miles of seafront.
"It is really mind-blowing, the size of this," he said.
In the Philippines, more than 260 people had been injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, one of Asia's most violent revelries.
Department of Health spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said he expected the number of injuries to rise sharply when Filipinos ignite powerful firecrackers to end a year marked by tragic disasters, including a Nov. 8 typhoon that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 others missing.
"Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children, so you can imagine how it feels," said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan. "I tell them to face the reality, to move on and stand up, but I know it will never be easy."
China was planning to count down to the New Year with light shows at two spectacular and historic locations -- part of the Great Wall near Beijing and at the Bund waterfront in Shanghai.
In Beijing, one flower shop manager said he hoped the new year brought more customers.
"Since the government started its campaign to crack down on luxury spending and promote frugality, our business with government agencies has been in decline," said Mao Xiangfei. "In the past, government clients accounted for about 10 percent of our business, but now it's zero."
But in one polluted Chinese city, the celebrations were slated to be quieter as authorities in Wuhan in central Hubei province called off their annual New Year fireworks show and banned fireworks downtown to avoid making the smoggy air worse.
In Japan, thousands of visitors, some donning kimono, will pray, ring a bell and toss coins as offerings at shrines, wishing for health, wealth and happiness. Temple bells will ring the customary 108 times, for the 108 causes of suffering according to Buddhism, and welcome in the Year of the Horse.