Crowds and fireworks welcome 2014

LONDON - Celebrations are taking place around the world to mark the start of 2014.

People in Auckland, New Zealand, were among the first to celebrate. In Australia, hundreds of thousands gathered for a spectacular firework display around Sydney's Harbour Bridge.

Similar shows took place in cities across the world, with thousands lining London's River Thames.

New York staged its traditional New Year's Eve countdown and ball-drop over a chilly Times Square.

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a New York native, pushed the ceremonial button to drop the famous ball on a rooftop over the square.

Moscow also celebrated with a spectacular fireworks display over the Kremlin.

However, there was intense security in Red Square following recent suicide bombings in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.

Dubai - in the same time zone as Moscow - aimed for a world record with a fireworks extravaganza stretching along 30 miles (50km) of seafront.

Adjudicators from Guinness World Records were on hand to check proceedings, but it was not clear immediately whether the attempt was successful.

The world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was the centrepiece of the display.

East Asian cities also rang in the new year, with Beijing, Jakarta and Singapore all hosting celebrations.

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands of spectators watched the fireworks over Victoria Harbour.

The Chinese city of Wuhan had called off its display to avoid worsening a smog problem.

In Japan, Shinto priests gathered at shrines. Japanese people traditionally visit shrines and temples to pray for their families at this time.

In the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, an estimated 100,000 people sang the national anthem in the city's Independence Square in support of further integration with Europe.

The square has been the focus of pro-European protests for more than a month after President Viktor Yanukovych ditched a key deal with the EU.

As midnight struck across western Europe, Berlin and Paris were among the capitals staging spectacular displays.

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