Fireworks, War and Earthquakes: World Greets 2024


Around the world, crowds gathered to welcome 2024, but while some people watched fireworks displays in awe, those in Gaza, Israel and Ukraine sought shelter from airstrikes launched early in the new year.

This while thousands of Japanese had to flee for their lives after a powerful earthquake which also caused tsunamis.

People from around the world are probably hoping to leave the new year with rising costs of living, wars and extreme weather conditions in 2023; however, most problems are dragged along.

At midnight, several rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel where they were intercepted.

Israel also launched rockets into Gaza, which the militant group Hamas said led to 24 deaths. According to the United Nations (UN), 85% of the inhabitants of Gaza have already fled.

Tens of thousands of people marched in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Monday to protest the scale of death and destruction caused by Israel’s response to the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues.

Ukrainian authorities said its military foiled a “record” number of Russian drone attacks – 90 in total – on New Year’s Eve after a week of bombing by Russia.

Russia, meanwhile, has reported more frequent drone strikes by Ukraine in its Belgorod region near the countries’ common border.

Pres. In his New Year’s message to Ukrainian citizens, Volodymyr Zelenski said that Russia will feel the “wrath” of his country’s forces this year.

His Russian counterpart, pres. Vladimir Putin did not refer to Ukraine in his New Year’s speech, but on the day pledged to intensify attacks on military targets in Ukraine.

January 1 was declared a day of mourning for the dead in Kiev in Ukraine.

On New Year’s Day, a massive earthquake struck Japan, leading to devastating aftershocks and tsunamis. The death toll stood at 30 by early Tuesday.

New year not happy everywhere

Hours before the earthquake struck Japan, millions of people gathered in Sydney, Australia to celebrate the New Year.

More than a million people gathered at the Champs-Elysées in Paris for a light show and concert, while thousands of people later in New York watched the giant illuminated ball in Times Square.

However, not all New Year’s celebrations were without incident.

In Italy, one person died from fireworks and 274 others were injured. This while the handling of fireworks in Switzerland led to the death of a 46-year-old man and the injury of two people.

Three young men also died when they handled fireworks in Germany and in neighboring Austria, a fire at a bar in Graz claimed the life of one person and injured 21 others.

War fatigue was evident among those living in violence-torn countries.

In Tel Aviv in Israel, a 24-year-old resident said he chose to work on New Year’s Eve, rather than celebrate the new year.

“The moment I start dancing, all the sadness and mourning of the year comes back to me,” he said.

Even some Russians were not in the mood to greet the new year too excitedly, saying they were tired of their country’s war with Ukraine.

“I would like the war to end, a new president to be elected and a return to normal life,” said a 55-year-old woman from Russia.

Pope Francis spent New Year’s Day in Italy praying for those caught up in wars around the world.

“How many lives have been destroyed during conflicts this year? How many deaths?” he said.

To the ballot box

This year a number of important elections will be held in Russia, Britain, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Venezuela and South Africa.

However, it is especially the presidential election in the USA that has international consequences.

Pres. Joe Biden (81) and ex-pres. Donald Trump (77) already seems to be ready to face each other again in the election.

Biden greeted the new year with optimism for the American economy, but many voters are worried about the toll that four more years in office will take from him.

There are also concerns about Trump’s possible return to the White House.

Several charges face Trump and this year may determine whether the billionaire will end up in the White House or in prison.