Firework bans in cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam were widely ignored during the New Year celebrations as strong winds led to organised displays being cancelled nationwide.
Dozens of people were taken to hospital and dozens were arrested, while the fire brigade were called out to deal with several large and smaller fires.
‘It was an old-fashioned New Year,’ David Baden, chairman of the emergency doctors’ association NVSHA, told news website Nu.nl. The number of people coming to hospital with injuries both firework and alcohol-related, was in line with pre-coronavirus years, he said.
A 23-year-old man from the village of Diessen was killed after an accident involving setting fire to carbide in a milk churn. In Drachten a child was seriously injured while setting of fireworks, but their condition has not been made public.
Accident and Emergency doctors at the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam treated around 100 people, 60 more than on a normal Saturday night. Ten of them had firework related injuries but the rest had either been drinking or using drugs, Baden said.
Rotterdam’s specialist eye hospital treated 17 people with eye damage, one of whom has lost an eye. It was, doctor Tjeerd de Faber told RTL, ‘an old-fashioned night of horror’. Other hospitals in Rotterdam and The Hague dealt with dozens of patients with a mixture of firework and alcohol related injuries.
In Rotterdam, at least 35 people were arrested in the early hours of the morning. The ban on consumer fireworks was largely flouted and police and council wardens did not intervene, Nu.nl said. Riot police were involved in breaking up a gang of youths in the Crooswijk district of the port city, and 14 were arrested.
In Amsterdam there were also dozens of arrests. Some of those picked up were throwing fireworks at the police. Arrests were also made on Dam square in the city centre after a fight.
In Schiedam, the ban was also ignored. ‘A hell of a lot of fireworks have been set off,’ mayor Cor Lamers told broadcaster NOS. ‘I think there were more than before coronavirus. A change like this [banning fireworks] takes years. The ban on smoking did not happen overnight.’
It was also a busy night for the fire brigade. In Veghel in Brabant there was a major fire in a church which has been converted into a mosque.
A primary school in Buitenveldert was hit by arsonists, who threw a burning rubbish bin through a window, while fireworks caused major damage to a childcare centre in the north of Amsterdam.
Several cars were set on fire in Utrecht’s Kanaleneiland district, and there were also car and caravan fires in Ede, Emmen and Kootwijkerbroek
The traditional bonfire in Floradorp in Amsterdam-Noord had been cancelled because of the forecast strong winds but locals decided to press ahead with it anyway. Fire officers and riot police were on standby but did not intervene, Nu.nl said.
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