A PLEA by the Chinese government for fewer fireworks to be set off at New Year celebrations yesterday fell on deaf ears.

Chinese welcomed the arrival of the Year of the Snake with a cacophony of firecrackers in the streets and masses of fireworks blazing into the sky for good luck.

Celebrations will carry on into today, officially the first day of the Lunar New Year. Residents of Beijing braved freezing temperatures to let off the fireworks, with clouds of smoke in the air and explosions rattling windows.

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The Government plea was intended to help cut Beijing's notorious air- pollution problems.