Despite fears and huge Dubai fire, New Year revelry rolls on

World News

By SYLVIE CORBET, KRISTEN GELINEAU and JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press

On a New Year’s Eve haunted by fears of terrorism, a spectacular fire in one of Dubai’s tall towers captured the world’s attention. With few exceptions, the celebrations rolled on, and while fire still raged, the Dubai Media office declared on Twitter: “New Year celebrations in Dubai will continue as scheduled.”

As 2015 drew to a close, many people were bidding a weary and wary adieu to a year marred by attacks that left nations reeling and nerves rattled.

In Bangkok, site of a deadly bombing months ago, police flanked partygoers. In Paris, residents recovering from their city’s own deadly attacks enjoyed scaled-back celebrations. And in Munich, police warned of the threat of a terror attack.

A look at how people around the welcomed the new year:

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

In the megacity of Dubai, a fire broke out two hours before midnight in The Address hotel, in the area where a massive fireworks display was being prepared.

The five-star hotel is near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. At least one person suffered a heart attack from the smoke and over-crowding during evacuation, and 14 suffered minor injuries.

Organizers said the Burj Khalifa had been fitted with 400,000 LED lights and 1.6 tons of fireworks would be used in the display.

Burning debris rained down from The Address building as firetrucks raced to the scene. It was unclear what caused the fire, which ran up the 63-story building. The Address has 626 luxury apartments and 196 hotel rooms, according to Skyscraper Center, which tracks skyscrapers.

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FRANCE

The French are still recovering from the Nov. 13 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris, and authorities prepared for a possible worst-case scenario on New Year’s Eve. About 60,000 police officers and troops were deployed across the country, and revelers said that made them feel safer.

French President Francois Hollande used his traditional New Year’s Eve speech to warn that the terrorist threat is still at its “highest level.”

“2015 has been a year of suffering and resistance,” he said. “Let’s make 2016 a year of courage and hope.”

Paris canceled its usual fireworks display in favor of a 5-minute video performance at the Arc de Triomphe just before midnight, relayed on screens along the Champs Elysee, where people chanted.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the show was aimed at “sending the world the message that Paris is standing, proud of its lifestyle and living together.”

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THAILAND

Less than six months after a pipe bomb killed 20 people at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, tens of thousands of people rang in the new year at the intersection with live music and a countdown.

Up to 5,000 police officers were in the area, with explosive ordnance disposal experts sweeping the area ahead of time.

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MALAYSIA

Security was beefed up in Malaysia’s biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, where fireworks greeted the new year at a historic square and at the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the world’s tallest buildings.

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PHILIPPINES

Concern in the Philippines on New Year’s Eve focused on the use of illegal fireworks, which last year injured more than 850 people. Shopping malls and cities organized fireworks displays to discourage people from lighting their own firecrackers.

An annual procession of the Black Nazarene, a black wooden statue of Jesus Christ, was held a day earlier than usual Thursday to prevent injuries from mounds of trash and unexploded firecrackers that litter Manila’s streets after New Year’s revelries.

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JAPAN

New Year’s Eve is Japan’s biggest holiday, and millions of people crammed into trains to flee the cities for their hometowns to slurp down bowls of noodles, symbolizing longevity, while watching the annual “Red and White” song competition on television. As midnight approached, families bundled up for visits to neighborhood temples, where the ritual ringing of huge bronze bells reverberated through the chill.

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