London - The world welcomed 2007 with skyrockets and rock
concerts but in some corners of the globe, the New Year was marked by
saber-rattling and bombings.
Fireworks exploded over Sydney's Harbor Bridge as a million onlookers greeted
the New Year. In London, thousands of revelers gathered to cheer as Big Ben rang
in 2007. But the Thai capital of Bangkok canceled the main celebration after
nine bombs exploded across the city, many in crowded tourist areas. Two people
were killed and 34 were injured.
In the Australian capital, one
of the world's first major cities to see the dawn of the new
year, people crammed the harbor shore for a lavish fireworks display celebrating the
25th anniversary of its iconic bridge.
Fireworks explode over
the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year's eve
celebrations January 1, 2007. [Reuters]
Thousands of would-be revelers who had gathered at
Bangkok's Central World Plaza shopping mall complex for the event were sent
home, officials said. Festivities continued in other parts of the city, though,
including the famous Patpong Road red light district. Police and army troops
with assault rifles, meanwhile, guarded some tourist sites, mass transit
stations and traffic circles.
A policeman stands guard after bomb blasts in Bangkok January
1, 2006. [Reuters]
In India, police arrested two suspected Islamic militants about half a mile
from the site of New Delhi's main public New Year's Eve celebrations, a report
said, citing police.
Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a New Year's Eve service at the Vatican City in
Rome that 2007 would bring the world "peace, comfort, justice." But he cast a
cold eye on some secular New Year celebrations, saying such social "rites" are
"often carried out as an escape from reality."
In London, Big Ben's chimes were relayed by sound systems
along the banks of the great, gray River Thames. Crowds flocked to the banks near the Houses of Parliament to watch
a light show countdown projected onto the 443-foot London Eye Ferris wheel, followed by
a 10-minute fireworks display "big enough and loud enough to be seen ...
all over the capital," Mayor Ken Livingstone said.
Fireworks explode over the River Thames in
London to celebrate the new year January 1, 2007. [Reuters]
At least a million revelers were expected to pack Times Square in
unseasonably warm New York City, to hear singers Christina Aguilera and Toni
Braxton cheer and watch a 1,070-pound Waterford Crystal ball fall at midnight.
In North Korea, an editorial carried in all three state-controlled newspapers
celebrated the new year by boasting that the country's possession of nuclear
weapons "serves as a powerful force for defending peace and security ... and
guaranteeing the victorious advance of the cause of independence."
Meanwhile Romania and Bulgaria became the newest members of the European
Union at midnight. Fireworks thundered through the sky in the Romanian capital.
"Citizens of Bucharest. Welcome to the EU," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli
Rehn said, standing on a stage with Romania's president and European foreign
ministers. The ministers from Germany, Denmark, Austria and Hungary wished
Romanians a Happy New Year, and planned to fly Monday to Bulgaria for
High winds and winter storms dampened celebrations in other parts of Europe.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, an outdoor concert that was to feature soul singer
Beverley Knight and rock band The Thrills was called off due to the threat of
Glasgow officials said high winds and rain had forced them to cancel
Hogmanay, or traditional New Year's celebrations, in the Scottish city.
Edinburgh at the last minute also canceled its Hogmanay party, which was to be
headlined by the Pet Shop Boys.
In Belgium, several fireworks displays were canceled after two party tents
set up for celebrations in northern Belgium blew away on Saturday.
No official celebrations were planned in Paris, but thousands were expected
to congregate along the city's glittering Champs-Elysees to welcome 2007.
In the Philippines, where many believe noisy New Year celebrations drive away
evil and misfortune, police threatened to arrest anyone setting off oversized
Despite the warning, 284 people were injured by firecrackers and celebratory
gunfire in the two weeks before New Year's Day, a 75 percent rise from last
year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
"I have campaigned every day against firecrackers," Duque said. "But this has
become a deeply rooted part of our culture."
In Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to
greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds on the peaks to reach
Many Japanese, ranging from families with children to elderly couples,
usually start climbing at night so they can reach the top in time for sunrise.
Police anticipated 95 million visitors to the country's major Buddhist
temples and Shinto shrines over the first three days of the new year, as people
offer prayers for peace, health and prosperity in one of the few religious rites
in which most Japanese regularly take part.
The South African city of Cape Town prepared to celebrate New Year's Eve with
a show by the Cape Minstrels.