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New Year's Celebrations Ringing in 2014



Fireworks crackled through the night skies in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong as they started the worldwide celebration of the first moments of 2014.

Crowds gathered in public spaces in major cities across the Asia-Pacific region to ring in the new year with music, fireworks and revelry.

Fireworks erupted from Auckland's Sky Tower as revelers danced in the streets. In Sydney, Australia, more than a million people watched fireworks launched for the first time in more than a decade from the sails of the city's famed waterfront opera house. Billowing fireworks soared over Hong Kong's skyscrapers.

Big celebrations are being held in major cities across the world, including Moscow, London, and New York, where some one million people are expected to gather in Times Square to watch a giant ball drop at the stroke of midnight. Dubai is trying to create the world's largest fireworks show.

In Japan, some celebrators are eating noodles and seafood -- thought to bring good luck in 2014 -- and offering prayers at Buddhist shrines and temples.

Celebrations are expected to be muted in the Philippines, where officials say about 260 people have been injured by fireworks or stray bullets in the days leading up to New Year's Eve. The mood is also somber in areas still recovering from Haiyan, a November typhoon that killed thousands of people.

Cape Town, South Africa, is set for a particularly poignant celebration, as it will include a tribute to anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, who died December 5.

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