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Asia hails 2013!

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Asia hails 2013!

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CANBERRA – Sydney’s skyline erupted with tons of exploding fireworks as revellers cheered in the New Year from the city’s crammed harbour in the world’s first major celebration for 2013.
The enthusiastic welcome to 2013 was continuing on a grand scale across Asia.
Increasingly democratic Myanmar is having a public countdown for the first time. Jakarta is planning a huge street party befitting Indonesia’s powering economy.
Celebrations were planned around the world, with hundreds of thousands expected to fill Times Square in New York City to watch the drop of a Waterford crystal-studded ball.
Major cities across austerity-hit Europe were to burn off part of their battered budgets in spectacular fireworks displays, although some municipalities – including the Cypriot capital, Nicosia – cancelled their celebrations in light of the economic crisis.
Sydney’s balmy summer night was split by seven tons of fireworks fired from roof tops and barges, many cascading from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in a AUS$6.6 million (BDS$13.5 million) pyrotechnic extravaganza billed by organizers as the world’s largest.
In Hong Kong, this year’s HK$12.5 million (BDS$3 million) fireworks display was said to be the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city. Police expected as many as 100 000 people to watch.
One day after dancing in the snow to celebrate the first anniversary of leader Kim Jong Un’s ascension to supreme commander, North Koreans were preparing to mark the arrival of the New Year, marked as “Juche 102” on North Korean calendars.
Juche means self-reliance, the North Korean ideology of independence promoted by national founder Kim Il Sung, who was born 102 years ago. His grandson now rules North Korea.
In New Delhi, the festive mood was marred by the death last Saturday of a young rape victim.
Hotels, clubs and residents’ associations in the Indian capital decided to cancel planned festivities and asked people to light candles to express their solidarity with the victim, whose plight sparked public rallies for women’s safety.
“Let there be no New Year celebrations across the country. It will be a major tribute to the departed soul,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders.
In a field in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, workers were testing a giant digital countdown screen with the backdrop of the revered Shwedagon pagoda.
The celebration was the first public New Year countdown in Myanmar, a country ruled for almost five decades by military regimes that discouraged or banned big gatherings.
“We are planning this public New Year event because we want residents of Yangon to enjoy the public countdown like in other countries,” said Win Thura Hlaing, one of the organizers. (AP)