EAST BERLIN — The wild New Year's celebrations at the Berlin Wall turned sour when a giant video screen collapsed onto a crowd early Monday morning, injuring more than 100 people.
Police also said they found a 24-year-old West German dead along East Berlin's Unter den Linden avenue, but his death did not appear to be connected with the collapse.
A total of 300 people were injured in holiday revelry, 80 of them taken to hospitals in East and West Berlin with cuts, broken bones and head wounds, police said.
It was a sad end to the joyous party, with East Germans clambering onto the border wall that had hemmed them in for 28 years, drinking, shouting and kissing their fellow Germans from the West.
It was the wildest night at the wall since Nov. 9, when East Germany's Communist rulers threw open the borders after a wave of unrest had swept away hard-line Communist leader Erich Honecker in October.
At the stroke of midnight, champagne and fireworks had rained down on the crowd of 400,000 thronging the famous Brandenburg Gate, the 200-year-old symbol of German unity.
Several hundred people, defying police orders, managed to climb to the top of the gate via scaffolding supporting the video screen. Just after 1:30 a.m. local time, the scaffolding gave way.
Red Cross workers struggling through the crush and the carpet of broken glass found scores of injured. More than 100 people were reported hurt, some seriously.
East German guards immediately closed border crossings at the gate, bringing an abrupt halt to the celebrations.
East German police said they are investigating whether to prosecute East German television, which put up the video screen, for violating safety regulations.
Later, East German television disclosed that vandals who clambered onto the gate seriously damaged the historic Quadriga statue on the top. Television footage showed broken pieces of the copper statue, as well as graffiti scrawled on the monument.
The metallic leaves of the laurel wreath on top of the statue were torn out, and the reins of the chariot were broken. The vandals also smashed floodlights and left a trail of broken champagne bottles on top of the gate.
As Berlin revelers nursed their hangovers later Monday, street cleaners set to work clearing a path through ankle-deep debris for a New Year's Day "fun-run" spanning both sides of the city in which about 2,000 Berliners took part.