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Vandals pelt firefighters
New Year's Eve revelers set fire to school buildings and cars
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
THE HAGUE – Out of control New Year’s Eve reveling has extracted a heavy toll among school buildings in the Netherlands. Twenty two schools were hit by fire of which three were completely destroyed, insurer Centraal Beheer confirmed. Total damage to the schools is about $30 million.
Centraal Beheer feels that elementary schools especially should do more to prevent fires by installing security cameras and sprinkler systems.
The police union thinks that the extent of New Year's Eve vandalism and unruliness is far greater than has been reported. Incidents in which vandals interfere with the work of emergency personnel is also not restricted to one evening in the year. According to the union, hostility to emergency services members is so rampant that it could fill newspaper columns daily.
New Year's Eve also saw twice as many incidents of vandalism to homes compared to the year before. Vandalism to cars increased by 11 percent. Nearly 130 cars were torched in The Hague alone. In many cases firefighters were unable to extinguish fires because the public pelted them with stones and firecrackers.
In Amsterdam, the police have been severely criticized for closing its station in the notorious district of Slotervaart on New Year’s Eve. Ahmed Marcouch who heads the city’s area council says he alerted police earlier that day that disturbances should be anticipated at the police station during New Year's Eve. Police officials deny having received such warnings.
The police were not present when about fifty troublemakers smashed the windows of the police station and set fire to three police vehicles.