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Australia and Asia gives enthusiastic welcome to 2013


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.

Democratic Burma is having a public countdown for the first time. Jakarta plans a huge street party befitting Indonesia's powering economy.

The buoyant economies of the Asia-Pacific are prepared to party with renewed optimism despite the so-called fiscal cliff threatening to reverberate globally from the United States and the tattered economies of Europe.

Celebrations were planned around the world, with huge crowds expected in London and Edinburgh and hundreds of thousands expected to fill Times Square in New York to watch the drop of a Waterford crystal-studded ball.

Sydney's balmy summer night was split by 7 tonness of fireworks fired from roof tops and barges, many cascading from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in a $6.6m AUS pyrotechnic extravaganza billed by organisers as the world's largest.

In Hong Kong, this year's 12.5 million Hong Kong dollar fireworks display is said to be the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city. Police expected as many as 100,000 people to watch.

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.