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New year celebrations: World welcomes 2019

Many parts of the world have already rung in the new year.

There have been celebrations around the world to welcome in 2019.

Paris

The Champs-Elysees was the scene of festivities in Paris.

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Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Arc de Triomphe during the New Year’s Day celebrations (Michel Euler/AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier addressed the people following a mixed year in which there were mass protests but in a year that will be remembered for the country’s World Cup victory in Russia.

Berlin

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the people ahead of fireworks over central Berlin.

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Fireworks light the sky above the Quadriga at the Brandenburg Gate (Michael Sohn/PA)

It marked the end of a year when Mrs Merkel resigned as head of her party.

Sydney

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(Brendan Esposito/AAP Image via AP)

An estimated one million people crowded Sydney Harbour as Australia’s largest city rang in the new year with a spectacular, soul-tinged fireworks celebration.

One of the most complex displays in Australia’s history included gold, purple and silver fireworks pulsating to the tune of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, made famous by Aretha Franklin, who died in August. The show used 8.5 tonnes of fireworks and featured more than 100,000 pyrotechnic effects.

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(Brendan Esposito/AAP via AP)
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(Brendan Esposito/AAP Image via AP)

Earlier, a thunderstorm drenched tens of thousands of people as they gathered for the traditional display, creating a show of its own with dozens of lightning strikes.

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(Brendan Esposito/AAP via AP)

Police said they took precautions to prevent any terrorist attack, but assured revellers there was no specific threat.

In Melbourne, 14 tonnes of fireworks deployed on the ground and on roofs of 22 buildings produced special effects including flying dragons. In Brisbane, an estimated 85,000 people watched as fireworks exploded from five barges moored on the Brisbane River.

New Zealand

Tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, as fireworks exploded from the top of the 1,076ft structure.

Across the southern hemisphere nation, thousands took to beaches and streets, becoming among the first in the world to usher in 2019. Fireworks boomed and crackled above city centres and harbours.

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Fireworks explode from Auckland’s Sky Tower (Doug Sherring/New Zealand Herald via AP)

South Korea

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People attend New Year celebrations in Seoul (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

After an eventful year that saw three inter-Korean summits and the easing of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme, South Koreans entered 2019 with hopes that the hard-won detente will expand into a stable peace.

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Buddhists light candles during New Year celebrations at Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon).

Thousands of South Koreans filled the streets of the capital, Seoul, for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall. Dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included famous surgeon Lee Guk-jong, who successfully operated on a North Korean soldier who escaped to South Korea in 2017 in a hail of bullets fired by his comrades.

A “peace bell” was tolled at Imjingak, a pavilion near the border with North Korea.

Japan

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Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa lies on the mat after being knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japanese usually welcome the new year with a visit to a nearby temple or shrine, but some 30,000 people at Saitama Super Arena did it with Floyd Mayweather.

The American boxing legend soundly defeated his opponent, Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, in the first round of what was billed as three rounds of entertainment with no official record, meaning both fighters still retain their undefeated tallies.

“I told Tenshin to hold your head up high,” Mayweather said of his advice after the bout. Nasukawa was floored three times in the first round, and although he kept getting up, teetering, his father in the corner threw in the towel.

Thailand

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Worshippers pray as they take turns lying in coffins during a ceremony at the Takien temple in suburban Bangkok (AP Photo/Sakchai lalit)

While many celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks, hundreds of Thais travelled to Takien Temple in a suburb of Bangkok to lie inside coffins for traditional funeral rituals.

Participants believe the ceremony — symbolising death and rebirth — helps rid them of bad luck and allows them to be born again for a fresh start in the new year.

Participants held flowers and incense in their hands as monks covered them with pink sheets and chanted prayers for the dead.

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Monks cover worshippers lying in coffins (AP Photo/Sakchai lalit)

“It wasn’t scary or anything. It is our belief that it will help us get rid of bad luck and bring good fortune to our life,” said Busaba Yookong, who came to the temple with her family.

Bangkok is filled with modern glitzy shopping centres and high-rise buildings, but superstitious beliefs still hold sway in many aspects of Thai society.

United Arab Emirates

Fireworks crackled at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.

The fireworks replace last year’s somewhat anticlimactic LED lightshow that ran down the facade of the 828-metre-tall (2,716-foot) tower.

Moscow

Russia marked the new year with a firework display over the Kremlin in Russia.

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Fireworks explode over the Kremlin during New Year’s celebrations in Moscow (Denis Tyrin/AP)

It also marked the end of the year in which the country was praised for its staging of the World Cup.

United Nations

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres issued a bleak New Year’s message that called climate change an existential threat and warned that “it’s time to seize our last best chance”.

He noted growing intolerance, geo-political divisions and inequality, resulting in people “questioning a world in which a handful of people hold the same wealth as half of humanity”.

“But there are also reasons for hope,” he said. “As we begin this New Year, let’s resolve to confront threats, defend human dignity and build a better future — together.”

United States

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Confetti covers the crowd during the New Year’s celebration in Times Square, New York (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Raindrops fell along with confetti as revellers rang in 2019 in New York’s Times Square, capping a soggy New Year’s Eve celebration that included singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha’s stirring rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine just before midnight.

Crews used squeegees to try to remove water from the stages, but New Kids On The Block still splashed up puddles while performing their hit Step By Step on a giant set of steps.

At midnight, fireworks erupted over Times Square, couples kissed, families hugged and Auld Lang Syne played over loudspeakers.

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