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The World Welcomes the New Year; Dubai Set for Largest Fireworks Show; Weather Puts Ice Rescue on Hold; Russia's New Anti- Terrorism Efforts

Aired December 31, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Happy New Year. This is one of those amazing moments here. The ball drop there. It descends from 64 stories from the top of a luxury hotel. Let's listen in. Check out the Ferris wheel, as well.


MALVEAUX: All right. I can't translate that for you, but I know they're having a good time out there celebrating the New Year, of course.

I want to get some other New Year's celebrations in, as well. It is already 2014 in Hong Kong. Anna Coren, she's joining us on the phone. We've got Sara Sidner. She is in Dubai, a city that is preparing to put on the biggest fireworks show ever the world has seen.

Anna, happy new year.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, happy New Year, Suzanne. Love to talk to you. We just had an incredible fireworks display here about an hour ago when we welcomed in 2014. A spectacular light show that really lit up the city. The biggest New Year's Eve party that Hong Kong has ever staged. Some 400,000 people packed the four shores around Victoria Harbor to witness this pyrotechnic musical around something like eight minutes. It cost about $2 million.

And I can tell you now that the crowd absolutely lapped it up. And now slowly are starting to disperse and get back on the ferries and head home. Others are heading to the pubs. Of course the party certainly continues.

But I can tell you, Suzanne, welcoming 2014, the big event to people here in Hong Kong and much of China, of course, is Chinese New Year, which kicks off at the end of January, end of this month. And that, of course, is to welcome in the year of the horse. And that will be just as big, if not bigger. But, yes, 2014 has officially arrived here in Hong Kong.

MALVEAUX: Oh, my God. And I know it continues in the pubs, as you said. This is so over the top. This is amazing. Did they outdo themselves this year as compared to last? COREN: Look, I think they try to outdo themselves every single year. Certainly, you know, fireworks off barges in the harbor or, you know, some of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong. You know, you know this city. It's a vertical city. It's a spectacular tribute any day of the week, let alone on New Year's Eve, when, you know, the fireworks are just out of control.

But certainly a lot of planning went into this and the crowds absolutely lapped it up. It's starting to get very cold here. The winds have picked up. But we had clear skies, which was just fantastic. Really a great way to appreciate the spectacular light show.

MALVEAUX: All right, Anna, have a wonderful time tonight and going into the morning and celebrating. It looks absolutely amazing.

COREN: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Fantastic.

I want to bring in Sara from Dubai. And they don't do anything small there where you are, Sara. They're going to go for a world record, right?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You want to talk about dazzling, this place is going to be amazing. Already it looks very pretty because they've started the light show here at the Atlantis, the Palm. We are on the Palm and, you know, that is the island that was manmade to look like a palm.

I want to give you a good look at what is going on behind us because just behind there, these fireworks are going to blow up. And we're not talking about just your average fireworks display. They are going for the Guinness Book of World Records. They are going for 400,000 fireworks in just six minutes. And so you can imagine how crazy that's going to look.

And it's not just going to be here at the Atlantis. There are fireworks that are going to go all across the city. We're on the seashore about 100 kilometers. So about 60 miles or so of the coastline is going to light up. And they're doing all kinds of amazing things such as making it look like the sun is rising with fireworks. So this is a very choreographed, very beautiful and artistic show, but it's going to be loud and it's going to be crazy.

And you know Dubai, whenever they do something, they want to do it big, they want do it right and they want to beat everybody else and make such a spectacle. I'll just give you an idea of what the last record was. Kuwait holds the last record for the biggest fireworks display with 77,000. So they're going way far beyond that. And it cost a pretty penny.

But I did want to wish you a happy new year. We've got some of the gear here. We're ready to go. We've got three hours and then it's going to be playtime.

MALVEAUX: And, Sara, I understand you spoke to some folks ahead of time, as well?

SIDNER: Yes, you know, we're going to have a good time. I think what's going to happen, Suzanne, is behind me it's very dark, so I'm not going to pan the camera. But behind me they're going to do a countdown on the bridge. So unlike having just people doing countdowns, they're going to light it up on the bridge five, four, three, two, one and then everything's going to go nuts. We asked how much this might cost and we got sort of a figure. First it was millions and then it was 10 million plus U.S. dollars to put on this big old show.


SERGE ZAALOF, ATLANTIS MANAGING DIRECTOR: When this not explored but yes becomes a show, a light show, it will be about 700 meter wide. Then we will have a 10 kilometer long sunrise firework over Dubai. This is beyond huge.


SIDNER: Now, that was the managing director of the Atlantis. So you heard him there say it's going to be huge. And it is. And a lot of people are excited. Tens of thousands of people expected out here. And the weather, by the way, don't be jealous. I'm sorry to say this, but it's about 70 degrees and perfect.

MALVEAUX: Oh. I am jealous. Sara, I'm jealous in so many ways.


MALVEAUX: I'd love to go to Dubai. I'd love to be with you to see all of this. As he said, it's beyond huge. Clearly it is going to be beyond huge. So I'll get my hat ready -

SIDNER: Come on.

MALVEAUX: And we're going to get back to you when all that starts - all that starts exploding. Sara, it's so good to see you. Happy New Year.

And be sure, of course, tonight, you've got to tune in, do this every year, 9:00 Eastern, Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin ringing in the new year live from Times Square, doing it only like they know how to do it, tonight 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. You're not going to want to miss that one.

It's a good thing these folks have a good attitude about it. Stuck on a ship off Antarctica seems, you know, one way to spend a new year's. But they're ringing in the New Year on ice. The bad weather, it made it impossible for the rescue helicopter to actually reach the ship. So the crew has marked the spot on the ice where it can land. Now all they can do simply is wait. Here's more from Matthew Chance.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it's the new plan. In fact, it's the only plan say rescue workers that is going to work right now. They've abandoned all attempts at this stage to reach the stranded research vessel by sea. The pack ice is simply too thick around it for the ice breakers to break through. Instead, they're going to be staging an airlift using a helicopter from the Chinese ice breaker to fly over to the ship, land on the ice next door and airlift the passengers and some of the crew to safety. But they can only do that when weather conditions allow.


CHANCE (voice-over): This morning, new video, dozens of passengers walking arm in arm, doing what they can to speed their rescue.

CHRIS TURNEY, EXPEDITION LEADER: We've just learned the Aurora can't reach us. So we're preparing the helipad by getting the team to stomp down on this snow and ice so the Chinese helicopter from Snow Dragon can reach us when the weather improves.

CHANCE: The weather conditions are not expected to get better until at least one more day. In the meantime, the crew has marked the spot in the ice where the chopper can land. Once it does, it will transport 12 people at a time to a Chinese ice breaker. Then a barge will ferry them from the ice breaker to another ship from Australia. The stranded research ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, had set out to study climate change in Antarctica and retrace the steps of explorer Douglas Mawson, who studied life on the frozen continent a century ago, but they got stuck in thick ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this was big chunks of ice, really thick, lots of years (ph), lots of years' worth of growth. And you just know (ph), oh, we're in trouble here. This is not going to be (INAUDIBLE).

CHANCE: Since Christmas, three separate ice breaker ships have tried and failed to cut a path to the research vessel. Once the rescue does happen, a skeleton crew will be left behind. But for most of the 74 people marooned, this Antarctic ordeal may soon be coming to an end.


CHANCE: We're keeping a very close eye on that developing situation. At the moment, the winds, we're told, are still far too high for the helicopter to operate safely.


MALVEAUX: All right, we wish them the very best.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

First, it was stolen credit, debit card information, as well. Well, now, there is a problem with the gift cards. That's right. If you have a gift card from Target, it might not work. We're going to explain.

Also up ahead --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the Olympic sites will have physical security, electronic security. Everybody will be screened. So I think it will be difficult to -- for someone -- for a terrorist to set off a bomb inside a villager or venue.


MALVEAUX: But what about the areas around Sochi? Ahead, we're going to take a look at the increased security at the Olympic games and why a security director from the Atlanta Olympics says the terrorists will look at these vulnerable areas instead.

Plus --


MALVEAUX: Love it. Happy New Year. Countries around the world bringing in the new year. We're going to bring you more sights and sounds from the biggest parties.


MALVEAUX: So folks who live in eastern North Dakota, they still don't know whether or not it's safe to go about their daily lives this New Year's Eve. That is because two trains crashed and burned yesterday. One of them was hauling crude oil.

Emergency crews, they are testing the air to see if the thick black smoke that made it dangerous to be outside, well, what is the condition now? Nobody was hurt in this crash, but firefighters had to let the oil fire burn itself out. A lot of people who live in that area, they actually left their homes when officials issued that evacuation order.

Well, we also want you to take a look at this. Some of the destruction from a powerful storm that tore through western Australia. Cyclone Christine ripped roofs off houses, uprooted trees, knocked out the power for thousands of folks. Now, some of the wind gusts were almost 130 miles per hour. Towns covered in debris. Still no major reports of major flooding.

And first, about 40 million customers had their credit and debit card information stolen, right? Well now target is dealing with yet another problem. The company says that thousands of its gift cards didn't activate properly. So that means if you tried to use one at the store, you might actually show the wrong amount or no amount at all.

Now, target says this happened to a small percentage of the cards, and the stores will honor them. Now, apparently, it has nothing to do with what happened before, which was the data breach earlier this month.

Still, New Year's Eve here, but already 2014 on the other side of the world. Celebrations, amazing, spectacular. Want you to take a look at this. These are some major cities around the world ringing in the New Year.



MALVEAUX: Wow. That's spectacular, amazing festivities AROUND THE WORLD. They are starting to party.

On this New Year's Eve, there are some folks, however, in Russia, major Russian cities, not feeling as festive. This is just days after terrorists struck a trolley bus and a train station.

Russian social media are full of warnings now not to use public transportation. We're going to have a report on the investigation into those terror attacks, straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: Authorities in Russia now say 34 people were killed in this week's terrorist attacks. Sixteen died when a suicide bomber detonated on a trolley bus in Volgograd yesterday. Eighteen others were killed by a suicide bomber at the city's main train station the day before.

Both attacks are believed to have been the work of separatists who have vowed to target the Winter Olympic Games just weeks away.

Our Diana Magnay is in Moscow with the latest on the investigation.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a huge security sweep going on in the city of Volgograd.

Around 5,000 security officials examining buildings, checking people's documents, this as investigators continue to sift through the debris, trying to piece together what happened.


MAGNAY: Russian authorities have discovered a link between the two, deadly suicide bombings in Volgograd. Monday morning's attack on a crowded trolley kills 16, and on Sunday, a massive explosion rocked the city's railway station.

This chilling surveillance video captures the horrific incident at a security checkpoint when a suicide bomber detonated 22 pounds of TNT, killing 18.

Authorities now say both bombs contained similar shrapnel, a sign they originated from the same region.

The attacks highlight the terrorist threat that Russia faces as it hosts the Winter Olympic Games next month in Sochi, just 400 miles south of the devastation.

WILLIAM RATHBURN, 1996 ATLANTA OLYMPICS SECURITY DIRECTOR: All of the Olympic sites will have physical, electronic security. Everybody will be screened. So I think it will be difficult for someone, a terrorist, to set off a bomb inside a village or venue.

MAGNAY: Russia's President Vladimir Putin is personally involved in security plans and promising maximum security in Sochi. But Russian authorities say they will not change security measures they already have in place, confident that they're well prepared.

U.S. authorities have offered full support to the Russian government in ramping up security measures. In a statement, the United States Olympic Committee says in part, "We're always concerned with the safety of our delegation and the Sochi games are no different in that regard."

An effort by the committee to avoid a repeat occurrence of the bombing that killed two at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

RATHBURN: What concerns me is when you harden targets, you often force the terrorists to select softer targets.

So that makes everything else in Sochi and the surrounding area vulnerable.

MAGNAY: Targets like transportation hubs where tourists and athletes will travel to and from the games.


MAGNAY: And Suzanne, President Putin's claim that he can keep the Olympics secure really depends also on whether he can control the situation in the North Caucasus. He claims that he can.

But it would seem as though terrorists are intent on proving that he cannot.


MALVEAUX: Thank you, Diana.

And 2013 has seen many significant international stories from the pope's election to Nelson Mandela's death.

We're going to take a look at the top 10 stories of the year, up next.