Dutch New Year's dips from Scheveningen to Kandahar
More than 27,000 people across the Netherlands have taken a cold plunge on New Year's Day, a record number according to organiser Unox, a major Dutch food brand.
The 25,000 hardy Dutch men and women who took a dip last year also represented a new record for the event. More than 10,000 people took part in the event in the coastal resort of Scheveningen near The Hague, where traditionally the largest number of people take an icy plunge into the North Sea. New Year's dips were organised in a total of 63 locations across the Netherlands, with 17 sites cancelling the event because of the unseasonable cold weather, most of them in the northern provinces.
A New Year's dip by Dutch sailors aboard the HNMS Amsterdam was cancelled half an hour before the starting shot after sharks were reported near the ship. The dip may still be held later on Saturday. The replenishment ship, earlier involved in anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast, was on its way home just before Christmas but diverted course to Ivory Coast at the request of the French government to lend assistance in supplying UN forces there and the possible evacuation of civilians.
A New Year's dip by Dutch soldiers in the Afghan province of Kandahar did go ahead as planned. The Dutch defence ministry reports that more than 200 soldiers used an improvised pool for their dip. Soldiers from allied forces also took part, the base commander US General Jeffrey Kendall did the honours and took the first plunge. The Dutch soldiers are in Kandahar to wind up the Dutch mission to Uruzgan which ended in August.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide