Evening Update Friday 15th December 2023

Police in the Var have made an appeal for witnesses following what they describe as the worrying disappearance of a 30-year-old woman. Maryline Bertrand was last seen in La Seyne sur Mer yesterday. She's 1m55 tall and slim with brown eyes and dark hair and drives a white Dacia car. Police say they are worried because the woman has been suffering from depression. Anyone with information should call the police on 17.

The mayor of Monaco, Georges Marsan, and four other people have been questioned by police in the principality as part of an ongoing investigation into claims of corruption and money laundering. The Monegasque prosecutor's office said searches had been carried out at several premises. The five people were placed in police custody yesterday morning, and their custody has been extended by a further 24 hours. According to France 3, the investigation could be related to a recent public tender at La Condamine market. Monaco Matin says it's the first time that a mayor of Monaco has been placed in police custody while in office.

A mother and her son have been sentenced for a spate of baggage thefts targeting wealthy tourists at Nice airport. The 45-year-old woman and her 21-year-old son were caught in May, during the busiest period at the airport with the Cannes film festival and Monaco grand prix. One victim had a Louis Vuitton bag stolen, along with her mobile phone and more than €10,000 in cash. Another was robbed of thousands of euros worth of jewellery. After the first complaint was filed, police monitored the airport's CCTV and reinforced their patrols, managing to catch the pair in the act. A search of the family home found more than a dozen luxury handbags and cash. The mother was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Her son must spend a year wearing an electronic bracelet.

Two people have been injured in yet another stabbing in Nice. The attacks happened on the Boulevard Comte de Falicon, near the Stade du Ray, on Thursday evening. The two victims, aged 19 and 20, were taken to Pasteur hospital. The attacker could not be caught.

A driver has been seriously injured in a crash in Pourrières in the Var. Nine firefighters were called out at about 9am this morning to help free the victim from their car. The circumstances surrounding the accident are currently unknown.

Meanwhile, new road safety figures in France show a 16% increase in road deaths over the past year. In November, 281 people died on French roads, up from 242 in the same month last year. It's the third month running that road deaths have been on the rise, after nine months of decline.

The minimum wage in France will go up by 1.13% on 1st January. The new gross hourly minimum wage will be €11.65. The modest increase is based on November's inflation figures.

After a period of uncertainty and tensions, the funfair operators who were waiting for a place to set up in Nice are now ready to open this weekend. The funfair will be open to the public on a plot of land next to the MIN flower market to the west of the city, with 56 attractions. It comes after lengthy discussions and delays after funfair operators found there was not enough room for them all to set up along the Promenade Verte near the Palais des Expositions. The funfair at MIN will be open every afternoon from tomorrow until 7th January.

And Auron and Isola 2000 ski resorts are offering free passes to under-12s this weekend. Both resorts will also be offering cut-price ski lessons for children tomorrow and Sunday. Auron will rent children's ski equipment for free this weekend for every adult equipment rental. Restaurants and hotels are also planning family offers. Valberg and Val d'Allos ski resorts are also opening to the public from this weekend.

BUSINESS

The governor of the Bank of England says it is "too early" to speculate about when UK interest rates will be cut. Andrew Bailey spoke after the Bank voted to hold interest rates for a third time at 5.25% - a 15-year high. On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve signalled that rates were at or close to a peak and could fall next year. But in contrast, Bailey said it was not possible to "definitively" say the same for the UK. The Bank has lifted interest rates 14 times since December 2021 to cool soaring inflation. In the UK, this has been fuelled by higher energy and food costs following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

And new direct high-speed train routes from London to Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva and Zurich could be up and running within five years, according to the Eurotunnel owner, Getlink. While the Channel tunnel, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next May, has struggled to extend its passenger offerings beyond Eurostar’s original London to Paris and Brussels services, Getlink said new entrants and destinations could now arrive swiftly. Two potential operators, the Spanish rail firm Evolyn and the Dutch train startup Heuro, have publicly declared their interest in rivalling Eurostar. Yann Leriche, the chief executive of Getlink, said he had been in conversation with at least two other players about starting competing operations through the tunnel.

SPORT

Cricket - England's disappointing batting collapse handed India total control of the one-off Test in Mumbai as 19 wickets fell on a dramatic second day. England slumped to 136 all out in reply to India's first-innings 428, including losing six wickets for only 10 runs. India then opted against enforcing the follow-on and finished 186-6, an imposing lead of 478.

Meanwhile, Australia boosted their dominant position on day two of the first Test against Pakistan in Perth. Australia reached 487 all out. In response, Pakistan ended day two on 132-2, trailing by 355 runs.

Boxing - Chris Eubank Jr will not fight Conor Benn early in the new year. The talks to stage the potential contest are currently "dead in the water," according to Eubank's promoter. Speculation had been mounting that Eubank would box Conor Benn, the son of his father's great rival Nigel Benn, in February, although the British Boxing Board of Control had rejected an application to license the fight. When Benn was originally meant to fight Eubank last year, it emerged that he had tested positive for a banned substance. Although his provisional suspension has been lifted, that decision is currently being appealed.

Football - The president of Turkish football club MKE Ankaragucu has received a permanent ban for punching a referee Faruk Koca was arrested after he ran on to the pitch and struck the ref following a match earlier this week. The club have also been fined two million lira - that's about €60,000 - and ordered to play five home games without any fans. All Turkish league football was suspended after Monday's incident. The Turkish Football Federation has since decided that games will resume on Tuesday, 19 December after a one-week suspension.

In the Premier League this evening Nottingham Forest are at home to Tottenham. On Saturday, with a 4pm kick off, Bournemouth play Luton Town, Chelsea are at home to Sheffield United, Manchester City face Crystal Palace, Newcastle play Fulham and Burnley play Everton. On Sunday Arsenal play Brighton, Brentford are at home to Aston Villa, West Ham play Wolves and Liverpool face Manchester United.

Locally, in Ligue 1, Monaco play Lyon at the Stade Louis II tonight at 9pm, while on Saturday, OGC Nice are away at Le Havre with a 5pm kick-off.

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