Sydney in circle of flame More than 15,000 fire-fighters continued to defend Sydney from around 100 fires, burning since Christmas Day. Almost 5,000 people were evacuated from their homes, tens of thousands of animals perished and nearly 60 per cent of the Royal National Park was destroyed. Experts blamed arsonists for starting nearly half of the fires.
Not quite dead? An investigation will be launched into whether the disgraced gynaecologist Rodney Ledward faked his own "death" from pancreatic cancer last October in Ireland. He "died" days before he was to be questioned by the police over allegations that he scarred and maimed hundreds of women in botched operations. Since then, there have been reported sightings of him in Ireland and Spain.
Baby Brown Chancellor Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, became proud parents to a baby girl, Jennifer, born by caesarean section seven weeks prematurely, and weighing in at 2lb 4oz (1.05kg). A beaming Brown declared himself a changed man: "Politics seems less important today."
Tragedy in Peru At least 282 people died as fire swept through a shopping centre in Lima. Witnesses said the fire started when a shopkeeper lit a firecracker to advertise his wares, accidentally igniting large stocks of other fireworks, which then exploded throughout the mall.
Happy New Year The broadcaster Jimmy Young, the actor Ben Kingsley and the director Alan Parker were among the entertainers on the New Year Honours List. More than half of the honours went to voluntary and public service workers.
Bye-bye, Rudy Half a million New Yorkers cheered Rudolph Giuliani as he left office. The Republican mayor was named Time magazine's man of the year for his leadership of New York in the aftermath of 11 September. He is succeeded by a fellow Republican, the billionaire Mike Bloomberg.