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85,000 peacefully ring in New Year at Helsinki's Citizens' Square

A major concert wrapped up without incident in Helsinki but police and emergency services had a busy night elsewhere.

kolme nuorta naista drinkit kädessään
Welcoming a new decade at Citizens' Square. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Residents of various parts of Finland celebrated the arrival of 2020 with fireworks and musical shows. A New Year’s Eve concert at Helsinki’s Citizens’ Square attracted some 85,000 people, according to the Helsinki police department’s Twitter account.

Police said that the festivities proceeded without any major incidents or reports of disruptions or wrongdoing.

The event ushered in the new decade with performances by top Finnish acts such as Alma, as well as home-grown rap acts Pyhimys and Gasellit. DJ Windows95man also entertained the large crowd.

Story continues after photo.

Helsingin kaupungin uudenvuoden juhla Kansalaistorilla Helsingissä.
The city of Helsinki organised the star-studded New Year's Eve show. Image: Vesa Moilanen/ Lehtikuva

Young and restless in Helsinki

However police said that as Helsinki residents fired off rockets throughout Tuesday night at various points in the city, they received numerous reports of the improper use of fireworks. They added that groups of youngsters reportedly fired pyrotechnics toward people, cars and buildings.

Police in other parts of the country also received reports about disturbances, assault and fights at residences and in public places.

"They were drunken brawls for the most part," the Central Finland situation report hub told news agency STT.

However the celebrations were not significantly different from previous New Year’s Eve revelries, the centre noted.

"The entire spectrum of life" in eastern Finland

Meanwhile police in eastern Finland described Tuesday night as exceptionally busy. By 7am on Wednesday, officials had logged more than 400 calls.

"I have never seen such numbers in just one night," Inspector Arto Vänninen of the eastern Finland police control centre told STT.

According to Vänninen police saw "the entire spectrum of life" during their work on Tuesday evening.

"There has been every kind of disturbance: scuffles, fights, several illegal threats, drunk driving of course, missing and self-destructive people," Vänninen expanded.

He added that unlike a regular weekend, many calls involved minors and young adults and most often related to drugs or fireworks.

The most serious cases involved an attempted manslaughter in Kiuruvesi, a robbery at Pitkäjärvi in Mikkeli and violent resistance of authorities in Mäntyharju.

The eastern Finland control centre also received more than the usual number of reports of runaway animals, especially dogs. Some of the missing pets were apparently startled by the sounds of fireworks.

South Savo emergency services were called to rescue an old horse stuck in a ditch in Rantasalmi on Tuesday night. Efforts to free the animal failed after several hours and it was put down after an assessment by a veterinarian.

Fires around the country

Fire fighters across the country were called into action during the evening and night. A structure with five semi-detached homes caught fire in Nurmijärvi in southern Finland, forcing the evacuation of several people. No one was injured. Officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Story continues after photo.

Rivitalo paloi Klaukkalassa Nurmijärvellä uudenvuodenyönä 1. tammikuuta 2020.
No one was injured in a blaze that damaged a structure with five semi-detached homes. Image: Vesa Moilanen/ Lehtikuva

In Helsinki’s Koskela distric,t a blaze that began on the balcony of a five-storey building spread to one residence and from there to the roof. No injuries were reported and people were evacuated only from the affected flat.

In Pori, a wayward firework landed on the balcony of a detached house and set some items on fire. In Pieksämäki a log home was badly damaged in another blaze.

An unused dance hall in Joensuu also caught fire. Police detained three persons suspected of involvement in the incident.

Assault in Ikaalinen

Police in the Pirkanmaa region are looking into an incident in Ikaalinen, where a passerby who stopped to assist someone was assaulted in the town centre.

According to the Central Finland police department the bystander had seen a woman lying on the ground on Vanha Tampereentie, with a man standing beside her.

When the passerby tried to find out the woman’s state, the man began to act aggressively. He shoved the Good Samaritan and threw him on the ground.

When a police patrol arrived on the scene, officers first ensured the woman received treatment in an ambulance. They found that she had also been assaulted, however the man suspected of the offence had already fled the scene. Police are trying to identify the man.

Police responded to a similar call in the Lahti city centre, where a man had reportedly assaulted a woman and thrown her on the ground. When police arrived another man hit the alleged assailant. Police attempted to speak with the assailant but the situation escalated and he was placed in handcuffs.

A second woman then tried to release the suspect from the police car but both were then detained. Police are considering two counts of assault, resisting an officer and illegally freeing a detainee.

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