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Two die in Germany New Year fireworks
January 02, 2018
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FRANKFURT: Two people have died from fireworks injuries during New Year celebrations in Germany, but the country avoided a repeat of the mass groping in Cologne two years ago amid heightened security and efforts to protect women from sexual harassment.

In the Brandenburg region outside Berlin, police said on Monday that a 35-year-old man died after igniting fireworks, and a 19-year-old suffered fatal head injuries after he set off a homemade device.

Multiple fireworks injuries also were reported across the country.

Police in Cologne said there were seven cases of sexual harassment, while Berlin police reported 13 and seven arrests as several hundred thousand people celebrated at the city’s Brandenburg Gate.

Police sought to prevent a repeat of the incident two years ago in Cologne when hundreds of women were groped and robbed, mostly by groups of migrants. There were also concerns about possible terror attacks in the wake of the attack on Dec.19, 2016 in which an asylum seeker drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market and killed 12 people.

Police barred large bags from barricaded-off pedestrian party areas in Berlin and Frankfurt.

Other fireworks incidents included serious eye injuries to a 14-year-old girl after fireworks were thrown at a group of people in the town of Triptis in the Thuringia region in the east, the dpa news agency reported.

Hand surgeons at Berlin’s trauma hospital worked continuously in three operating rooms through the night treating 21 people, including five with amputation injuries, dpa reported.

Six officers in Berlin suffered temporary hearing loss when a firework was thrown at them during the arrest of a suspect. The 22-year-old man was believed to have thrown a firecracker that blew a hole in a police car’s rear windshield.

Police said they also arrested a 16-year-old girl after she repeatedly threw fireworks at police and confiscated 44 illegal pyrotechnic devices they found in her possession.

Police in Leipzig turned water cannon on a group of up to 50 disorderly people who threw firecrackers at them.

chilly Tiber

Hardy thrillseekers plunged into Italy’s Tiber river on Monday, continuing a decades-old New Year’s tradition.

Like every January 1 since 1946, several courageous divers braved the cold and rain to kick off 2018 by jumping from a bridge in central Rome into the famous river, which is barely above freezing.



“It’s my 30th jump,” said Maurizio Palmulli, a veteran diver, dressed in his swimsuit before the big jump.

The tattooed fifty-year-old said he wanted to “dedicate this year’s jump to all the families in difficulty, not only here in Rome but also in Italy and all over the world,” before taking the plunge from about twenty metres. Simone Carabella, another diver, said: “The water is really freezing.”

Vienna waltzes

The Vienna Philharmonic did its best to give a troubled world a soothing start to 2018 on Monday with its traditional New Year’s Concert, broadcast live in over 90 countries.

The annual extravaganza, heavy on light-hearted waltzes by the Strauss dynasty harking back to Vienna’s 19th-century golden era, is watched by some 50 million people, the Philharmonic said.

His greying hair flopping in time to the music, the conductor this year was Italian maestro Riccardo Muti, waving the baton in the hallowed Golden Hall of the Musikverein for the fifth time since 1993.

The 76-year-old has conducted some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de France.

Alongside Strauss favourites like “The Blue Danube,” the 2018 programme also featured the Overture to “Boccaccio” by Franz von Suppe and Alphons Czibulka’s “Stephanie Gavotte.”

In the audience was Sebastian Kurz, since mid-December Austria’s chancellor and the world’s youngest leader at 31, accompanied at the Musikverein by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Other guests included the presidents of Estonia and Bulgaria. Bulgaria took over the rotating EU presidency from Estonia on Jan.1 and will hand it to Austria mid-year.

Kurz’s conservatives formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) last month, giving it the interior, defence and foreign ministries as well as the vice-chancellorship.

Agencies

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