It's already the New Year for billions of people - in Germany people were still waiting for 2024 on Sunday evening. In many places, the New Year celebrations are overshadowed by the upheavals surrounding the wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine. In many major cities around the world, security measures are tightened due to concerns about attacks.
After the terrorist alarm for Cologne Cathedral, three more suspects were arrested on Sunday. In Berlin, around 4,500 police officers are supposed to prevent riots like last year. There was a big surprise of a different kind in Denmark: In Copenhagen, Queen Margrethe announced in her 52nd New Year's address that she would abdicate in mid-January.
More suspects in custody after Cologne terror alarm
In Cologne, the police chief said at a press conference that the allegedly planned attack was supposed to have been carried out with a car. It turned out that the Tajik, who was taken into custody on Christmas Eve, was part of a larger network. North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) said that the approximately 1,000 police officers who were deployed around the cathedral on New Year's Eve were doing everything they could to ensure the safety of those celebrating. Shortly before Christmas, the police received information about a planned Islamist terrorist attack on Cologne Cathedral on New Year's Eve.
New Year's Eve affected by flood disaster
For many people in the flood areas, the New Year's Eve party is literally canceled this time. The Interior Minister of the hard-hit state of Lower Saxony, Daniela Behrens, called for New Year's Eve fireworks to be used with caution due to the tense flood situation. The fire brigades and rescue services are busy enough, said the SPD politician in Verden.
Australia, China, South Korea already have 2024
In many parts of the world, 2024 has already begun. The people on the South Sea atoll of Kiritimati were the first in the world to start the new year. An hour later, New Zealand celebrated the New Year. After Central European time at 2 p.m. the time had come in Australian cities like Melbourne. In Sydney, a mega light show lit up the sky against the world-famous backdrop of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. By the German evening it was already 2024 in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and China.
Berlin is in a “state of emergency on New Year’s Eve”
The police and fire brigade in Berlin prepared for the turn of the year with a large contingent. According to Police Chief Barbara Slowik, it is one of the largest operations in the capital in recent decades. Before the already restless New Year's Eve in Berlin, the situation was made even worse by the Gaza war following the terrorist attack on Israel by the Islamist Hamas.
According to the latest information, around 3,200 police officers from other federal states and from the Federal Police were also deployed in Berlin. They should also protect firefighters and rescue workers. The fire brigade and other aid organizations wanted to be active with a total of more than 1,500 emergency services. That's about three times as many forces as usual, it was said.
Private fireworks are particularly dangerous. The Berlin police said that a 40-year-old lost a hand when setting off a signal rocket in the Kaulsdorf district. Immediately after ignition, the rocket exploded in his hand. During a search, additional pyrotechnics were found on him and confiscated. The first attacks on emergency services and passers-by have already been reported in Berlin.
Demonstration banned in Berlin-Neukölln
Out of fear of crime, the Berlin police banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Neukölln that had been registered for New Year's Eve. According to the police, two parallel planned counter-rallies in support of Israel were then canceled by the organizers. Another pro-Palestinian demonstration moved from Neukölln to Kreuzberg on New Year's Eve afternoon with a heavy police presence.
Hot spots and no-fire zones
The police defined several hotspot areas, including northern Neukölln. There were also zones where firecrackers were banned, for example at Alexanderplatz. Private fireworks are also prohibited at the Brandenburg Gate. The traditional New Year's Eve party is taking place there again, which ZDF is broadcasting live. For the first time since the corona pandemic, fireworks are planned again. According to a police spokeswoman, the crowd is still low in the early evening.
Whole globe only on January 1st. at 1 p.m. in the New Year
In total, it takes 26 hours for the entire globe to enter the New Year. American Samoa, located just 220 kilometers east of Samoa on the other side of the International Date Line, will be the last country - twelve hours after Germany. At 1:00 p.m. CET on January 1st, only two uninhabited islands will follow.