Germany's NYE celebrations marred by death, injuries and attacks

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 1 Jan, 2023 Updated Sun 1 Jan 2023 10:55 CEST
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Fireworks explode over Berlin's Brandenburg Gate during a New Year's light and music show before midnight to welcome the year 2023, on December 31, 2022. Germany's police and fire brigade reported a large number of fireworks-related incidents and injuries. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Amid unusually mild weather, people gathered across Germany to mark the New Year. But with Covid-19 restrictions no longer governing the sale of fireworks and firecrackers, the fire brigade and police had their work cut out dealing with an increased number of incidents caused by pyrotechnics.

In Leipzig, a 17-year-old male was injured so badly when handling fireworks that he later died in hospital, the police said on New Year's Day.

In Thuringia, two men were seriously injured by exploding fireworks on New Year's Eve.

A 42-year-old in Friemar near Gotha had to have both his forearms amputated as a result of injuries sustained when handling firecrackers he had ordered online, the police said.

In Schleiz, a 21-year-old lost his hand in an accident involving an illegal explosive device. 

In Saxony-Anhalt, a pedestrian who had been lighting fireworks on the street was hit by a drunk driver and killed. The 42-year-old was thrown several metres across the road by the force of the impact early Sunday morning, police said.  He died at the scene of the accident in Schönebeck.

In Baden-Württemberg, a 39-year-old was seriously injured when a firecracker he had ignited hit his face.

READ ALSO: Why many German cities become a fireworks hell on NYE

Injuries and attacks across Berlin

It was a similar picture across the capital where the Berlin fire brigade carried out more than 1,700 operations between 7pm on New Year's Eve and 6am on New Year's morning. This was almost 700 more than a year ago when Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, prohibiting the sale of fireworks and closing clubs and discos.

The fire brigade dealt with brawls, shots from blank guns and firecrackers and rockets thrown at passers-by, buildings and officials, as well as attacks on emergency service vehicles.

According to a preliminary report from the Berlin service on New Year's Day morning, 22 people were injured by firecrackers and rockets and there were 38 incidents of emergency service workers being attacked, resulting in 18 injuries, including one hospitalisation.

The number of attacks on emergency services had increased significantly since before the pandemic, said a police spokesman in Berlin.

Police officers and firefighters said on Twitter that they were "massively attacked with firecrackers" when attending a burning vehicle and had to request support from additional emergency services.

"There is no justification for this behaviour and I can only condemn it in the strongest possible terms," said state fire director Karsten Homrighausen.

The sold-out ZDF New Year's Eve music party at the Brandenburg Gate was a peaceful affair, but long before midnight, the music was drowned out by countless firecrackers and rockets fired on the Straße des 17. Juni behind the Brandenburg Gate.

There was no official fireworks display there this year, but thousands of people who couldn't make it to the cordoned-off area in front of the gate had brought their own rockets – and their own party – with them. A police spokesman said there were several incidents and altercations with emergency services.

In many districts across the capital from Tempelhof and Moabit to Tiergarten, people were deliberately launching fireworks and firecrackers directly at buses, buildings and passers-by, the police said.

 

 

 

Call for ban on firecrackers

In response to the attacks with firecrackers and rockets on police officers and firefighters, the Berlin police union is demanding a far-reaching ban on firecrackers.

"We have seen across Germany that fireworks are being used specifically as a weapon against people," said Germany's police union (GdP) country manager Stephan Weh on New Year's morning. 

He said discussions on the issue should not wait until next December and that a sales ban should be in place for everyone who doesn't handle fireworks professionally and responsibly.

"Many hardware stores have already taken a clear position this year," said Weh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

DPA/The Local 2023/01/01 10:55

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Tafhim Ahmad 2023/01/03 19:51
There should be a blanket ban on fireworks at new year night. Wastage of money, damage to the environment and property, public lives at risk.

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