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Evening Update Mon 24 July

Fire - Hot weather and high winds have led to several major fires burning across the region this afternoon at Carros, Biot, Auribeau, Vallauris, Saint-Vallier de Thiey and Frejus. The worst fire appears to be at Carros where almost 300 firefighters and aerial water bombers are fighting the blaze. Authorities have implemented an emergency plan and are asking local residents not to leave their homes if they reside in solid buildings. For for people in light buildings such as caravans or mobile homes, they’re asked to evacuate and leave the perimeter of the fire. There are also road closures in place on the RN202, le Pont Charles-Albert and le Pont de la Manda.

Across the region, forest areas have been closed all day as the entire region has been on maximum alert for fires. Despite this, a large forest fire has taken hold in Saint-Vallier de Thiey which is also being attended to by fire-fighers and water bombers.

Meteó France says the exceptionally hot weather today is being caused by a Foehn effect, where a westerly wind, compressed by the Estérel, causes the rise in temperatures. However, the effect is short-lived and temperatures should return to normal tomorrow.

Wine - Winemakers are fearful this year’s grape harvest will be the worst on record. The Agricultural Ministry  say late frosts, wind and rain, throughout the spring could result in a 17% drop in production, even lower than the disastrous 1991 harvest. Picking is due to start in August, and although quantities are down, it’s too early to answer the question of quality.

Watch - A watch, which supposedly belonged to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been sold in Monaco for just over one million euro. While the Kremlin deny the watch was Putin’s, claiming the story is “fake news”, the auction house says their client had ordered the watch from Patek Philippe to give it as a gift to the Russian President.

Macron - President Macron is to meet this week with Riviera regular, U2 lead singer Bono, and with Rihanna who’s Nice  concert was cancelled last year due to the attacks. Both singers are meeting the President in relation to their charity work; Bono for his battle with poverty in Africa, and Rihanna for her involvement with the Global Partnership for Education.

BUSINESS

The IMF has downgraded UK and US growth forecasts due to ‘weaker-than-expected’ activity in the first quarter. They now expect UK growth to be 1.7% compared with the earlier estimate of 2%, and for the US 2.1% compared to 2.3 earlier. However, their overall global economic predictions of 3.5% growth in 2017 remain unchanged.

Ryanair has made a ‘non-binding offer’ for loss-making Italian carrier Alitalia. Two months ago, Alitalia was put into special administration and is to be restructured, sold off or wound up. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said they are only interested if there was a significant restructuring, so that Alitalia could reasonably operate on a profitable basis without government interference.

Greece is returning to the financial markets as the country's Debt Management Agency announced plans to sell bonds that will repaid in five years. It is the first sale of government debt since 2014 and seen as an important milestone for Greece.

SPORT

Football - AS Monaco defender Benjamin Mendy has completed his transfer to Manchester City for £52m, making his the world’s most expensive defender. The 23-year old France left-back has signed a five year deal with Manchester after just one year with principality club.

Formula 1 - Robert Kubica's will make a tentative return to the sport, when he test drives a 2017 Renault in Hungary next week. Kubica hasn’t raced in Formula 1 since a horrific rally crash in 2011 left him with only partial movement in his right arm. The test is described by the team as a new phase in assessing his capabilities and increases speculation about an impending - and remarkable - comeback.

Athletics - Eilidh Doyle has been voted the British team captain for next month's World Athletics Championships in London. The Scottish 400m hurdler won a ballot of the British squad, beating defending world champions Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. Meanwhile, eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt ran his first sub-ten-second time of the year to win the 100m at the Herculis Diamond League in Monaco. After Bolt clocked 9.95 seconds in the race, he confirmed he will run the 100m and 4x100m relay at the World Championships in London in August, his final event before retiring.

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