New Year in the world
Sydney. AFP PhotoExtravagant fireworks displays also lit up skies from Sydney to New York in a global New Year’s party that saw millions set aside their world of worries to welcome 2012, Agence France-Presse reported.
Turning the page on a year of financial turmoil in Europe and the United States, uprisings across the Arab world, devastation in Japan, and the dramatic killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout, revelers danced to pop stars, drank champagne, and cheered out the final seconds of 2011.
In New York, pop diva Lady Gaga and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hit the switch sending the city’s famous
crystal ball on its countdown drop.
Conf e t t i poured out over Times Square, where up to a million people had been expected, and multi-colored, star-burst fireworks erupted over Manhattan’s skyscrapers.
Earlier in Asia, Sydney and Hong Kong set the standard with glittering extravaganzas.
The mood was more somber in Tokyo but Dubai led the way in the Middle East and, despite financial
crisis, Europe spared no expense on the pyrotechnics.
London will host the 2012 Olympics and its firework display kicked off with a recording of the moment the capital learned it would host the Games. An estimated 250,000 people lined the banks of the River Thames, watching rings of fireworks in the Olympic colors flash in the sky, while the famous clock
tower in the Parliament building lit up with fireworks at every chime of the Big Ben bell.
Sydney really got the party started, its harbor exploding in a blaze of color and light that drew more than 1.5 million people. Two hours later the excitement moved to Tokyo, where balloons and fireworks filled the sky, with the Tokyo Tower turning blue.
Russia’s far eastern regions entered 2012 eight hours ahead of Moscow. Then thousands gathered in the capital’s Red Square for another massive firework display that sent rockets 140 meters into the midnight sky.
Injuries, detentions In Italy, a 31-year-old man died during New Year’s celebrations when a firecracker exploded and blew up his home, while another was killed by a ricocheting bullet, Italian media reported Dec. 31, the Associated Press reported.
In Russia, riot police arrested dozens of people on Dec. 31 in Moscow and Saint Petersburg during an anti-government demonstration, hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered a conciliatory message to the opposition in a televised New Year’s Eve address.
Police said about 200 people took part in the rally, with 60 detained. The show of police force marked the first time the authorities cracked down on members of the Russian opposition since allowing
two massive rallies on Dec. 10 and 24.