2015 begins: Shanghai tragedy, fireworks elsewhere - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

2015 begins: Shanghai tragedy, fireworks elsewhere

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A Filipino watches a fireworks display at the Quezon Memorial Circle in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) A Filipino watches a fireworks display at the Quezon Memorial Circle in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Fireworks explode during the New Year's party at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/dpa, Lukas Schulze) Fireworks explode during the New Year's party at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/dpa, Lukas Schulze)
People photograph fireworks as they celebrate the New Year in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin) People photograph fireworks as they celebrate the New Year in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, medical workers stand outside the emergency ward of the No. 1 People's Hospital of Shanghai after a stampede caused casualties among people who took part in New Year's celebrations. (AP) In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, medical workers stand outside the emergency ward of the No. 1 People's Hospital of Shanghai after a stampede caused casualties among people who took part in New Year's celebrations. (AP)

Revelers converged on the beaches of Brazil, the skyscrapers of Dubai and New York's Times Square to say good riddance to a turbulent 2014 marred by terror woes, Ebola outbreaks and a horrific series of airline disasters.

But tragedy struck in Shanghai, Baghdad was on edge and protesters in the United States planned a sobering reminder of one of the year's biggest stories.

A look around the world:

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STAMPEDE IN SHANGHAI

Thirty-five people were killed in a stampede during New Year's celebrations in downtown Shanghai, city officials said.

The deaths — the worst disaster to hit one of China's showcase cities in years — occurred at Shanghai's popular riverfront Bund area, which can be jammed with spectators for major events. A Shanghai government statement said early Thursday that another 42 people were injured amid the chaos about a half-hour before midnight.

Last week, the English-language Shanghai Daily reported that the annual New Year's Eve countdown on the Bund that normally attracts about 300,000 people had been cancelled, apparently because of crowd control issues. The report said a "toned-down" version of the event would be held instead but that it would not be open to the public.

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BREAKING A RECORD IN DUBAI

The Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai was aiming to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade with its spectacular display centered on the world's tallest building.

Some 70,000 LED panels around the 2,722-foot Burj Khalifa flashed colored lights and projected images of the country's leaders when clocks there struck midnight as a massive fireworks display erupted. The celebration draws throngs of thousands of spectators every New Year's Eve.

Emaar Properties said a team from Guinness World Records monitored the preparations. Last year, Dubai won the title for the world's largest firework display, according to Guinness.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK

Revelers eager to claim spots to ring in 2015 in Times Square arrived hours early on Wednesday, enduring freezing temperatures and a scarcity of restrooms before the glittering ball drop at midnight at the Crossroads of the World.

"Well, this is a bucket list item you have to do once in your life," said Caitlin Deavy, a tourist from Ottawa. "Come to Times Square and freeze for a couple of hours."

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WATCHING THE BALL — OR WHATEVER — DROP

The ball drop is a tradition that's being increasingly copied across the United States with twists celebrating local icons.

Among the items being dropped: a big chili in Las Cruces, New Mexico; a replica peach in Atlanta; a musical note in Nashville, Tennessee; a large pine cone in Flagstaff, Arizona; an oversized spurred cowboy boot in Prescott, Arizona; a 600-pound (270-kilogram) walleye made of wood and fiberglass in Port Clinton, Ohio; an 80-pound (36-kilogram) wedge of cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin; and in Escanaba, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a replica of a pasty (pronounced PAS'-tee) — a baked pastry filled with meat and potatoes.

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TRYING TO CELEBRATE IN BAGHDAD

In Iraq's war-scarred capital, Baghdad authorities ordered a one-off lifting of the overnight curfew in force for more than a decade to allow the city's revelers to stay out late on the streets.

Traffic was unusually heavy starting shortly after sunset and authorities closed commercial streets to vehicles in the city's center as a precaution against possible suicide bombings by militants of the Islamic State terror group.

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WASTING AWAY IN BVI

Thousands of partiers arrived on speedboats, yachts and ferries to dance the night away on the tiny Caribbean island of Jost Van Dyke that has long hosted one of the region's biggest, most uninhibited New Year's Eve bashes.

In the British Virgin Islands, Jost Van Dyke balloons from about 300 full-time residents to roughly 5,000 people each New Year's Eve as throngs of barefoot, tipsy people groove to reggae bands on white sands and hop from bar to bar. The annual tradition started in the 1960s on the idyllic island — so small it didn't get electricity until 1992.

"Every year it just gets bigger and bigger. People from all over travel here to get drunk, fall down and just have as much fun as they can," said Tessa Callwood, who runs a world-famous beach bar with her husband, Foxy's Tamarind Bar & Restaurant.

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AT THE COPA ... COPACABANA

More than 1 million people are expected to flock to the golden sands of Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach, where two dozen artists and DJs will perform on three stages. Tourists and locals routinely party until dawn on the beach, staying awake to watch the tropical sun rise for the first time in 2015.

A massive fireworks display that's blasted from boats on the Atlantic Ocean will light the sky over the crowd, which traditionally dresses in all white, a Brazilian tradition to bring purification and a peaceful year. Another tradition calls for partygoers to enter the sea up to their knees and jump over seven waves shortly after the New Year begins, for luck.

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POLICE PROTESTS IN U.S.

Amid the celebration, some U.S. cities are on alert for New Year's Eve protests related to recent police killings of unarmed black men.

Activists in Boston staged a peaceful "die-in" during First Night, Boston's popular New Year's Eve celebration. Dozens of people participated in the brief protest in front of the Boston Public Library Wednesday evening while others held signs saying "black lives matter" and "a young black man is two times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white young man."

Police reported no arrests or disruptions to nearby festivities.

No plans for major protests were announced in New York, where the police department is still mourning two officers shot to death in a patrol car. But security will be tight, with more personnel than usual.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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