Firework-loving Berliners bring in new year with a bang, then panic and sirens

Banned from setting off fireworks in much of their city, some Berliners instead tried to launch them from their homes on New Year’s Eve, leading to dozens of fires across the German capital.

By six minutes after midnight the Berlin fire service had been called to 18 fires, with more following afterwards. No one was initially reported seriously injured.

Berlin revellers usually take to the streets to light up the sky with fireworks on New Year’s Eve but authorities banned their use in more than 50 zones in the capital to discourage crowds.

The sale of fireworks was also prohibited in the run-up to 31 December in Germany, which is locked down with only essential shops open until at least 10 January to try to suppress the new coronavirus.

After faring better than many of its neighbours in the early stage of the pandemic last year, Germany has had a surge in cases and fatalities linked to Covid-19. A record daily high of 1,129 new cases were reported on Wednesday.