Sydney Fireworks Dazzle as Asia-Pacific Greets New Year

Posted December 31st, 2012 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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A gigantic fireworks display has lit up Sydney harbor as Australia's east coast and other Pacific nations become the first to welcome the new year.

An estimated 1.5 million people gathered around the Sydney harbor to see the $6.9 million fireworks show, with some camping out for much of the day to get a good vantage point. Many more watched on television around the world as Australian pop star Kylie Minogue pressed a button to kick off the annual extravaganza, which featured a soundtrack that she designed.

In Japan, millions of people were visiting Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples for traditional end-of-year ceremonies and prayers for 2013.

Tens of thousands of people also were expected to gather on the opposite sides of Hong Kong's harbor for a first-of-its kind New Year's Eve display featuring pyrotechnics launched from both the water and surrounding skyscrapers.

Authorities in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, closed a major highway to all traffic to make way for the city's first New Year's Eve street carnival fearing dance and pop performances on 16 stages.

Burma's largest city Rangoon was preparing to stage a public New Year's Eve party for the first time, as the country continues opening up its society following a decades-long military dictatorship that ended last year. At least 50,000 people were expected to attend Rangoon's countdown, fireworks and live music show.

In the Philippines, authorities were bracing for injuries as many revellers were expected to set off dangerous firecrackers and fire gunshots into the air.