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Tuesday's papers: Finland wakes to Berlin attack news, MP euthanasia straw poll, Christmas trees go online

Finnish newspapers and news sites on Tuesday morning were filled with tragic news of what appears to be another terrorist attack in Europe, this time in Berlin. Now that a citizen's initiative on legalising euthanasia has received 50,000 signatures, one paper asked lawmakers how they felt about the issue. Finnish Christmas tree firms expect to pull in more than 30 million euros this season, and they report increasing sales via the internet.

Hälytysajoneuvoja vahingoittuneen rekan edessä Berliinissä.
Image: Clemens Bilan EPA

On Tuesday morning Finland - and the rest of the world - woke up to news about a truck attack that took place at a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night which killed at least 12 people and injured at least 48 others. It is not yet known whether any Finnish citizens were in the crowded Christmas market at the time of the attack.

As news of the tragedy broke before some papers went to the presses, only some dailies like Helsingin Sanomat and the evening tabloids carried the news in their print editions. But online, coverage of the tragedy continues to develop.

Ilta-Sanomat reports that the Finnish Embassy in Berlin has issued instructions for Finns who are in the city, advising them to notify the embassy that they are safe.

According to a report in the online edition of Kaleva newspaper, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet been able to confirm whether any Finnish citizens were among the victims in the deadly attack.

The embassy has advised Finnish citizens to record their travel plans at, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel registration website, according to Ilta-Sanomat.

Kaleva says that some 186 Finnish citizens have notified Finnish officials that they are in - or were travelling to - the area.

In a brief statement reacting to the tragedy late Monday night, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö extended his condolences to the Berlin victims' relatives and friends.

Niinistö called the incident shocking, saying it was clearly intentional, and that Finland condemns terrorism, Ilta-Sanomat writes.

The embassy is urging citizens in the area to stay indoors, to avoid spreading rumours about the incident and to follow the instructions of local authorities.

According to the international news service Reuters, German police said they have taken one suspect into custody. A second man who was found dead in the lorry was first believed to have been involved in the attack - but it was later revealed that he was the owner of the vehicle, which the suspect drove in the attack.

The vehicle used in the attack was an articulated lorry which intentionally crashed into crowds of people gathered around wooden huts serving sausages and mulled wine at an estimated speed of 65 kph, in the heart of former West Berlin, Reuters reports.

Edited at 12:50 pm to reflect that a second man who was found dead in the lorry was first believed to have been involved in the attack - but it was later revealed that he was the owner of the vehicle, which the suspect drove in the attack.

Where do MPs stand on euthanasia?

A citizens' initiative calling for the legalisation of euthanasia has gathered more than the requisite 50,000 signatures it needs to be brought to parliament. The evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat asked MPs how they would vote if a law legalising the practice was presented to them.

Some 152 out of 200 MPs responded to the query, of which 62 said they would vote "yes," the same number that said had not yet made a decision, while 23 said they would vote "no." Five MPs declined to answer the straw poll.

The Centre Party's Hannakaisa Heikkinen said that it is important that people have end-of-life choices, and said she would vote yes on legalising euthanasia, also known as mercy killing.

On the other end of the spectrum, for example, the former chair of the Christian Democrats - and a physician herself - Päivi Räsänen, said the ethics of doctors are based on a respect for people's lives, not ending them.

Of the 62 undecided MPs, Left Alliance MP Annika Lapintie said that euthanasia is such a serious topic that she still wants to think about it, the paper writes.

Christmas tree biz goes online

Business paper Kauppalehti reports that 54 percent of households in Finland will likely buy a Christmas tree this year, which will amount to more than one million tree sales in the run-up before Christmas.

In a land of plentiful pine and fir trees, it is perhaps not surprising that a whopping 300,000 Christmas trees are cut down from private property.

Some one million domestic trees are sold on street corners, at Christmas markets and outside shopping centres - and increasingly, some are now being delivered to homes via internet sales, the paper writes.

Christmas tree firm boss Tuomas Nuotio who also sells trees in the real world says he started selling trees on the internet three years ago.

"If everything else is sold on the internet, why not Christmas trees? Being able to have them delivered helps with the holiday rush," Nuotio said.

The season for tree sales in Finland is relatively short, as most households don't usually buy one until the week before Christmas at the earliest. However, during that short window of opportunity tree sellers rack up about 32 million euros in sales, the paper writes.

Sources: Yle, Kaleva, Ilta-Sanomat, Helsingin Sanomat, Kauppalehti

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