Evening Update Monday 19th February 2024

Two men have been arrested and questioned by police after homophobic graffiti was sprayed on the Côte d'Azur LGBT centre in Nice. The pair were caught in the act by the centre's director, who was sprayed with tear gas. He shouted for help but said passers-by failed to intervene. Police were quick to attend the scene and a complaint has been filed against the two suspects for homophobic abuse and assault.

In other local news, a rally car driver has died in a race in the Var this weekend. 40-year-old Nil Gendraud was a co-driver in the Rallye des Roches Brunes, between Roquebrune-sur-Argens and Le Plan-de-la-Tour on Saturday. The car lost control at high speed on a sharp bend in the RD47 near Bagnols-en-Forêt and flipped on its side. Paramedics intervened quickly to try to resuscitate him, without success. His team-mate, Bruno Ferretti, who was driving, was slightly injured and airlifted to hospital.

Mountain rescue workers have had a busy weekend in the Vésubie. Rescuers were called out three times on Saturday to come to the assistance of injured mountaineers. One had suffered a dislocated shoulder, another was hit by a falling rock, and the third rescue came after nightfall when a 60-year-old man suffered back injuries from a five-metre fall and had to be airlifted to hospital in Nice.

A public transport trade union in the Alpes-Maritimes has urged the préfecture to introduce widespread compulsory drug and alcohol testing for all bus drivers. It comes after a bus plunged five metres from the Route de Grenoble in Plan-du-Var last month, injuring three passengers. The driver tested positive for cocaine and cannabis. And just last week, it emerged that a driver working for a Lignes d'Azur sub-contractor was allowed to start their morning's shift despite a positive breathalyser test for alcohol. A blood test carried out by police several hours later came back negative. Breathalysers that are connected to the vehicle's ignition - making it impossible to start a vehicle with a positive result - are compulsory on coaches and inter-city buses, but not on local bus routes. The local branch of the UD-CGT union says it first wrote to the préfecture nine years ago to call for reinforced saliva and breath tests to detect alcohol and drugs, but never heard back.

Several animal parks in the Var have increased their security measures after the recent theft of 14 squirrel monkeys. Fréjus zoo says it's carrying out more patrols, day and night, with security guards taking it in turns to stay on the site overnight. In La-Londe-les-Maures, where the thefts occurred, extra CCTV has been installed and there's a plan to start using guard dogs. Five of the 14 stolen monkeys have been rescued so far, in a series of arrests in Marseille and near Paris, thanks to investigations by gendarmes and volunteers from the SPA animal welfare charity.

The boss of Monaco railway station says everything is being done to ensure that all the station's escalators and moving walkways are fully operational by the end of this month. Regular passengers will have noticed several break-downs in recent weeks. The station's director says some of the equipment has suffered premature wear and tear, requiring an urgent search for replacement parts from China. In the long term, all of the escalators and lifts are due to be replaced as they are nearing the end of their 20-year lifespan. But the work will be done gradually to avoid disruption, and no works will be carried out during the peak season from April to September.

Monaco has come second in a new ranking of the best travel destinations in Europe. The European Best Destinations league table was drawn up after a public vote by more than a million travellers from 170 countries. Marbella came top, with Malta third. Monaco was described as "an exceptional destination where everyone can enjoy unique and memorable experiences" - from gastronomy to nightlife and wellness. The principality was also praised for its "mix of glamour, culture and relaxation" and for public safety.

And a gambler at the Café de Paris in Monaco has walked away with a €650,000 jackpot. The win, last Friday, is being described by the Monte-Carlo SBM as one of the largest jackpots paid out on the Côte d'Azur. It was won on the Wheel of Gold slot machine.

BUSINESS

Tourism spending in China during the Lunar New Year break jumped above pre-Covid levels, official data shows. Domestic tourism spending hit 632.7 billion yuan, about 47% more compared to the same holiday period last year according to government figures. The celebrations came after years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, which were lifted in early 2023. The data was also boosted as the holiday was a day longer than usual.

Some of India's top airlines have been ordered to start sending out passengers' bags within 10 minutes of the plane's engine shutting down. The civil aviation ministry has said that passengers' luggage should be delivered to them within 10 to 30 minutes after landing. The airlines have until 26 February to comply with the order. Late baggage delivery has been a persistent problem across airports.

SPORT

Golf - Japan's Hideki Matsuyama won the Genesis Invitational after an incredible fightback in the final round. His nine-under 62 to secure victory was one shot shy of the course record at the Riviera Country Club. The 2021 Masters champion, 31, started the day six shots behind leader Patrick Cantlay but finished 17 under par to claim his ninth PGA Tour title.

Football - West Ham are trying to dampen down speculation about David Moyes' future at the club. The business-as-usual messages came out of the London Stadium in the wake of Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest, which was West Ham's third Premier League defeat in a row. They have now gone eight matches without a win in all competitions. On Friday, West Ham will discover their Europa League last-16 opponents. It is the first time they have ever qualified for European football three seasons in succession. They are also ninth in the Premier League.

And in local football, AS Monaco have slipped to fifth in the Ligue 1 table after this weekend's 2-1 defeat by Toulouse at the Stade Louis II. OGC Nice slip a place, to third in the table, after their 1-0 away defeat at Lyon.

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