With a glass of champagne into the new year… © Jean-Christophe Bott
Giant fireworks from Sydney to Berlin: for many people around the world, 2017 started peacefully. Istanbul, on the other hand, does not – at least 39 people die in an attack at a nightclub.
The year 2017 is here. Millions of people worldwide welcomed the new year. They also celebrated with big fireworks in Germany. In Berlin, Munich and Cologne, the parties were mostly peaceful, but under strict police protection. The people of Samoa and other Pacific islands had been the first to cheer the New Year: point 11.00 o'clock Central European Time (CET) began there 2017.
Attack in Istanbul
However, the celebrations were overshadowed by a terrorist attack in Istanbul. At least 39 people were killed and at least 69 injured in the attack at one of the largest nightclubs in the city center. Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said: 'This is a terrorist attack'."An attacker had gained access to the club by shooting a police officer and a civilian at the entrance.
The German Foreign Office expressed shock at the attack.
The leaders of the Green Party in the Bundestag, Katrin Goring-Eckardt and Anton Hofreiter, also expressed their dismay: "We mourn with the people in Turkey. The horrific attack in Istanbul leaves us unconvinced."
The head of the Turkish Office for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Mehmet Gormez, condemned the act. It was "barbaric and abhorrent," he wrote on Twitter. Terror can never be tolerated – no matter who it comes from or against whom it is directed. "I strongly condemn the terrorists who are responsible for this massacre," Gormez said. No Muslim conscience could accept something like this.
Biggest German party in Berlin
In Berlin, Germany's largest New Year's Eve party saw hundreds of thousands of visitors, according to organizers. The party mile in front of the Brandenburg Gate was secured with concrete bollards and other barriers against possible attacks with vehicles. Cologne also celebrated the New Year with a large police contingent one year after the mass sexual assaults on New Year's Eve.
Strict security measures were also often in place abroad – for example in Paris. People there celebrated the New Year with fireworks on the magnificent Champs-elysees boulevard despite freezing temperatures. Because of the terror threat, authorities had blocked about access roads with concrete blocks and vehicles.
Londoners greeted the new year with a twelve-minute fireworks display on the London Eye Ferris wheel on the Thames just as Big Ben chimed at midnight. The spectacle was set to music, including pop greats such as Prince, David Bowie and George Michael, who had died last year.
Already at 14.00 German time, more than a million spectators witnessed a gigantic fireworks display in Sydney Harbor alone. Above the famous opera house in the Australian metropolis, rockets flew into the night sky for twelve minutes in summer temperatures. Two men died in accidents involving fireworks during the night.
In Tokyo, people released hundreds of white balloons into the air. In Buddhist temples across Japan, bells rang exactly 108 times to free people from one of 108 earthly desires.
Partial firecracker ban in Italy
For the more than 1.3 billion inhabitants of China – the world's most populous country – the new year began simultaneously (at 17.00 CET); the giant country has only one time zone. There were no official celebrations of New Year's Eve in the country's major cities this year. The 1. January is also a holiday in the People's Republic, but according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the new year does not begin until a good month later. However, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region hosted a spectacular fireworks display at the turn of the year 2016/17.
In many cities in India, such as New Delhi and Bangalore, people flocked to Bollywood movie-style parties. Strict security measures also in place in many places out of concern for terrorist attacks.
In Italy, too, people were cautious after the suspected assassin of Berlin was shot a few days ago near Milan. Tighter security was in place in Rome and other major cities across the country. A ban on firecrackers was in effect in Turin, Bologna and Venice, among other cities, according to media reports.