Evening Update Friday 9 October 2020

Alpes Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti has asked President Macron to award the Legion of Honor posthumously to firefighter Bruno Kohlhuber. Captain Kohlhuber went missing during the floods in the haut-pays and his body was recovered in the Var river yesterday. M. Ciotti said that he "died for France" and called for "a special promotion of the Legion of Honor and the National Order of Merit in recognition of the bravery of the many heroes who have saved hundreds of lives".

One week after the storm which struck the valleys of the Alpes Maritimes, a large operation is still taking place to supply essential items to affected villages. This morning ten army vehicles delivered 16 tonnes of water and 8 tonnes of food to Saorge in the Roya valley. The Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur Regional Health Agency has been carrying out checks to ensure the quality of the water distributed to residents since the storm.

Electricity has now been restored to 97% of households which were cut off after the storms. Each isolated village has been equipped with generators flown in by helicopter. RTE, the company which operates the high voltage power network, and three hundred Enedis employees have been working since last weekend to restore electricity to 15,000 affected households.

The prefecture has said that the provision of helicopters by the French army, navy and air force has allowed the evacuation of more than 750 disaster victims and the transportation of more than 40 tonnes of essential equipment. The search for missing persons is still continuing. Drones are being used to support search operations carried out by firefighters and rescuers in the areas most affected by the floods.

Additional resources have been put in place to help in the clean-up of debris from the beaches of the Alpes Maritimes. The wood and plant debris was carried downstream by the Var river. Nice mayor Chistian Estrosi said that eight additional trucks will be used in the clean-up operation which should double the speed at which debris can be removed. He said that "very heavy damage" had occurred and rebuilding would cost several hundred thousand euros.

The Route de la Tinée, the RM 2205, reopened at midday today to users with a limit of 3.5 tonnes. This limitation will be 26 tonnes as from Monday. However, authorities are calling on users of the road to be extremely careful. The road is accessible but still degraded by storm damage. Drivers must respect a speed limit set at 50 km / h and vehicles will have to pass in convoy in the Bancairon sector.

If you would like to make a donation to help those affected by the storms, information on how to do that can be found at the Department of the Alpes Maritimes website  www.departement06.fr

In other news, the President of the Scientific Council has said that "we must learn to live" with the coronvirus until next summer. Speaking on French television this morning Jean-Francois Delfraissy said that "we have six difficult months ahead of us" but added that he was confident the French people could live with that once people had been "given a long-term vision".

Health Minister Olivier Veran has announced a fund of 50 million euros for French hospitals. Speaking during a visit to a hospital in north-east France this afternoon, he said that the funds were for the creation of 4,000 extra hospital beds from December or before if necessary.

The Ministry of National Education said today that 199 classes and 24 schools are currently closed because of covid-19. The number of classes closed has fallen significantly since last week but school closures have almost doubled from last week's figure of 14.

Former hostage Sophie Petronin has arrived back in France. President Macron was at Villa Coublay air base in the Yvelines department along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and members of her family to welcome her back to France. Madame Petronin, who is 75 years old, had been held hostage for four years after being kidnapped in Mali.



UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new financial support for employees of businesses forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions. He said that the government will pay 66% of the salaries of such workers, up to a maximum of 2,100 pounds per month. The scheme will begin on 1 November and will last for six months.

New figures released today show that the UK economy expanded in August but by a lower amount than expected. GDP rose by 2.1% in the month, which was less than the 8.7% recorded in June and 6.6% in July. The figure for August means that the UK economy was 9.2% smaller than before the pandemic.

The London Stock Exchange has announced that it is selling the Milan Stock Exchange for 4.3 billion euros. It's being acquired by Amsterdam based Euronext which already owns other exchanges including the Paris stock exchange.

IBM has announced that it will divest its legacy IT infrastructure business into a new company next year. IBM is attempting to focus on businesses such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Chief Executive Arvind Krishna said that "hybrid cloud and AI are swiftly becoming the locus of commerce, transactions, and over time, of computing itself."



Motorsports... The first and second practice sessions for the Eifel Grand Prix were both cancelled today because of fog at the Nurburgring. The poor visibility meant that the medical evacuation helicopter wasn't able to fly and it was therefore decided there would be no racing at the circuit today.

Cycling... One of the main races in the cycling calendar has been cancelled because of the pandemic. The Paris-Roubaix race was scheduled for 25 October. It had already been postponed from its original date in April.

Football... Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has been injured while training with his national side Senegal. Mendy, who joined Chelsea last month, suffered a thigh injury and has now returned to Chelsea where he's undergoing medical examination.

Rugby Union... There’s one game in the Guinness Pro 14 tonight - Dragons play Zebre. It’s the semi final playoffs in the Gallagher Premiership in England tomorrow with Wasps playing Bristol and Exeter against Bath.

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