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50,000 see in the new year at Atomium fireworks

22:37 01/01/2019

An estimated 50,000 partygoers welcomed in the new year at the Atomium fireworks - while another 5,000 gathered in Brussels' Grand-Place, without any major incident, according to police.

Around the Brussels region, firefighters were called out 83 times in the early hours of New Year's Day - about four times more than an ordinary weekend night.

Etangs Noirs metro station in Molenbeek had to be closed under police orders, after a group of young people set fire to a car and a rubbish bin. Three cars were also torched near Ribaucourt metro station.

A pharmacy in Molenbeek was raided and several other shop windows smashed. Police and firefighters attending the scene reported being hit with stones. Four officers suffered minor injuries.

Molenbeek's new mayor, Catherine Moureaux, thanked police and firefighters for their work and said the town council would provide assistance to any businesses that had suffered damage.

The Brussels-Midi police zone, which overs Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles and Forest, made 40 administrative arrests - mostly in Anderlecht, where rubbish bins and cars were also torched.

In the Brussels-Ixelles police area, 37 arrests were made and 11 people have been charged. Seven vehicles were burned in the area.

Photo: James Arthur Gekiere/Belga