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THE WORLD cel­e­brated the New Year yes­ter­day with fire­works dis­plays from Syd­ney to Lon­don, al­though cel­e­bra­tions were clouded by deadly wild­fires in Aus­tralia, protests in Hong Kong and In­dia, and nu­clear ten­sions with North Korea.

Large crowds gath­ered in Euro­pean cap­i­tals for spec­tac­u­lar fire­work dis­plays that lit up the skies over land­marks such as Big Ben in Lon­don, the Arc de Tri­om­phe in Paris, the Parthenon in Athens and the Krem­lin in Moscow.

The tra­di­tional drop of a Water­ford crys­tal ball on Times Square in New York capped a six-hour New Year’s Eve show. In­ter­mit­tent rain did lit­tle to dampen the fes­tiv­i­ties as hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were treated to per­for­mances by Post Malone, the Korea-pop band BTS, and singer song­writer Ala­nis Moris­sette.

The ball has changed form sev­eral times since it first dropped at One Times Square in 1907 as an iron-and­wood sphere and has now be­come a global sym­bol of the New Year.

In Aus­tralia, a mil­lion rev­ellers thronged Syd­ney har­bour and nearby dis­tricts to watch more than 100 000 fire­works ex­plode above the city, even as thou­sands of peo­ple along the coun­try’s east­ern seaboard sought refuge on beaches from the bush fires.

Syd­ney de­cided to press ahead with its fire­works de­spite many calls by mem­bers of the pub­lic for the dis­play to be can­celled in sol­i­dar­ity with fire­hit ar­eas in New South Wales, of which the city is the cap­i­tal.

Syd­ney Mayor Clover Moore said plan­ning had be­gun 15 months ago and that the event also gave a boost to the econ­omy.

Thou­sands in Hong Kong wel­comed 2020 on neon-lit prom­e­nades in the pic­turesque Vic­to­ria Har­bour, break­ing into pro-democ­racy chants shortly af­ter the count­down to mid­night.

Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties can­celled the main mid­night fire­works dis­play for the first time in a decade, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns.

A “Sym­phony of Lights” took place in­stead, in­volv­ing pro­jec­tions on the city’s tallest sky­scrapers, while smaller-scale py­rotech­nics were launched from water­front rooftops.

About 6 000 po­lice were de­ployed and Hong Kong’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam ap­pealed for calm and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in her New Year’s Eve video mes­sage and Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping hoped “har­mony” would re­turn to the ter­ri­tory.

In Ja­pan, peo­ple took turns strik­ing Bud­dhist tem­ple bells, in ac­cor­dance with tra­di­tion.

Else­where, cel­e­bra­tions from Auck­land, New Zealand, to Py­ongyang, North Korea, wel­comed the new year with fire­works.

Thou­sands of In­di­ans ush­ered in the year by demon­strat­ing against a cit­i­zen­ship law they say will dis­crim­i­nate against Mus­lims and chip away at In­dia’s sec­u­lar con­sti­tu­tion.

The demon­stra­tions came de­spite Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s at­tempts to dampen protests that have run for nearly three weeks.

More than three years af­ter the UK voted to leave the EU, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son promised in his New Year’s mes­sage to “get Brexit done be­fore the end of this month”, say­ing un­cer­tainty had dom­i­nated pub­lic life for too long.

Pope Fran­cis ad­dressed the crowds gath­ered in St Peter’s Square at the start of the new year.

“Last night we con­cluded the year 2019 by thank­ing God for the gift of time and all its ben­e­fits,” he said.

“To­day we be­gin the year 2020 with the same at­ti­tude of grat­i­tude and praise.”

“For the year 2020 the mes­sage is this: ‘Peace as a jour­ney of hope’, a jour­ney in which progress is made through di­a­logue, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and eco­log­i­cal con­ver­sion,” he said.


THE Christ the Redeemer over­looks a fire­worls dis­play dur­ing New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. | FER­NANDO MAIA


PEO­PLE party with in­flat­able bal­loons on a bridge in front of the Lau­sanne Cathe­dral as they cel­e­brate the New Year, in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land.


NEW Year’s Eve fire­works fall across the Lon­don sky­line in front of the Lon­don Eye dur­ing Lon­don’s cel­e­bra­tions.


REV­ELLERS take part in New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions in Time Square, New York.


A NEW Year video is pro­jected on to the Arc de Tri­om­phe on the Champs El­y­sees in Paris dur­ing New Year cel­e­bra­tions. |


FIRE­WORKS ex­plode over the Krem­lin dur­ing New Year’s cel­e­bra­tions in Red Square with the Spasskaya Tower in Moscow, Rus­sia. Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin urged peo­ple to work to­gether in the com­ing year.


MID­NIGHT fire­works ex­plode over the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge dur­ing New Year’s eve cel­e­bra­tions in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. |


FIRE­WORKS il­lu­mi­nate the sky around the Burj Khal­ifa, the tallest build­ing in the world, dur­ing New Year’s 2020 cel­e­bra­tions in the Gulf emi­rate of Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates.

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