Evening Update Monday 23rd January 2023

18 young migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, have received medical care after spending several days detained by border police in makeshift accommodation near the Franco-Italian border. The young people, aged between 16 and 25, were reportedly being held in a 25-square-metre room at a building belonging to the French border force in Menton. Paramedics were called out earlier this morning and have carried out checks on their health. An investigation is under way to find out where they are from, and why they were being kept in such conditions. The 18 migrants were being kept in a prefab building near Saint-Louis border post, as migrant reception centres in the area are saturated.
Border police say they're seeing unprecedented numbers of migrants crossing into the French Riviera after arriving on Italian shores in recent weeks. Most of them take the road from Ventimiglia to Menton.

A 22-year-old man has been shot dead on a housing estate in Marseille - in the city's second murder in less than a week. The man received a single bullet to the head and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene in the early hours of this morning. The killing happened in Marseille's third arrondissement, one of the poorest areas in the city, with a history of drugs-related violence. Last Wednesday, a 45-year-old man was shot dead in the 15th arrondissement, another area known for drug trafficking problems. Last year, the Marseille prosecutor's office investigated 32 suspected gang-related murders in the Bouches-du-Rhône, including 28 in Marseille alone.

Firefighters in Nice have had a busy weekend. On Sunday at lunchtime, 30 firefighters were called out to a fire at a bakery on Avenue Borriglione, in the Libération district of Nice. Tram services on line 1 had to be briefly stopped and one person was treated for injuries. On Saturday, firefighters put out several shrub fires at the Parc Phénix. None of the venue's visitors, or animals, was injured. And about a dozen people were evacuated from their homes in the early hours of Sunday morning when a fire broke out in an apartment block on Avenue Henri-Dunant in the north of Nice. A first-floor apartment was completely destroyed. Two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The cost of driving along the A8 motorway through Nice will be frozen this year - while elsewhere on the motorway network, tolls are set to rise on 1st February. Vinci Autoroutes has promised not to increase the fee for cars and motorbikes at the Nice-Saint-Isidore tolls. It’ll remain €1.50 each way. Local MP Eric Ciotti wrote to the motorway operator earlier this month asking for the price freeze, as a gesture for people struggling with the rising cost of living. Many Nice residents use the A8 for short journeys, to get from one side of the city to the other. Ciotti believes it's unfair that locals should have to pay a toll to do so, while drivers in Paris, for example, can use the city's ring road free of charge.

Nice Airport has bounced back after two terrible years for international travel due to the pandemic. New figures show Nice Côte d'Azur airport welcomed 12 million passengers last year. That's double the number achieved in 2021. After running at a reduced capacity during the coronavirus shutdowns, Terminal 1 at the airport reopened last March. Passenger numbers are still slightly down on the pre-pandemic figures seen in 2019. But there's optimism for this coming summer, with new routes - including to Atlanta, Georgia - and a new low-cost connection to London Gatwick. There will also be increased capacity on the flight from Nice to Dubai, which from June will use Airbus A380s, the largest passenger aircraft in the world, capable of carrying 500 people. Airport management say one of their goals this year is to "de-seasonalise" air traffic. That means spreading passenger numbers as broadly as possible over the whole year, to avoid big spikes in traffic and keep the quiet winter season as short as possible.

Monaco residents will head to the polls in mid-March to elect their mayor. Georges Marsan, who's been in the role since 2003, has confirmed he'll be a candidate again. He's seeking re-election for what would be a sixth term in office. Marsan has been a member of Monaco's municipal council since 1993.

He doesn't drink - but former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is about to buy a vineyard in the Var as a business investment, in partnership with his wife, singer Carla Bruni. According to a trade newspaper specialising in the French wine industry, the former presidential couple are close to signing a deal to acquire the Domaine de Cantarelle, in partnership with several Saint-Tropez business moguls specialising in leisure and luxury. It's the largest wine estate in the Côteaux Varois protected appellation, not far from Saint-Maximin. This won't be Nicolas Sarkozy's first vineyard acquisition. He bought the 200-hectare Château Estoublon in the Bouches-du-Rhône last year.

In local sport, France's Sebastien Ogier won the Monte Carlo rally for a record ninth time on Sunday, breaking the tie with fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb. The eight-time world champion powered his Toyota to victory, winning nine of the 18 special stages, in the 93rd edition of the race in the hills above the principality.

We mentioned last week that a dolphin had been spotted again in the Port Hercule in Monaco. Now a diver has shared photos and video on social media of his lucky encounter with the mammal. Anthony and his colleagues at ProDive, on Quai Antoine 1er, were already in their diving gear, ready for a day's work at the underwater repairs firm, when they spotted the dolphin's fin emerge from the water next to their offices. A few of them cautiously made their way into the water, and gently stroked and swam with the dolphin for almost half an hour - before they unfortunately had to head off to their actual jobs.

And if, after 21 years, paying for things in euros is still too much for you, an Antibes resident has helpfully found a parking meter that accepts French francs and nothing else. A disused area in the SNCF car park at Antibes railway station has a rusty, long-forgotten-about parking ticket machine from way back when, which has never been removed. An hour's parking will cost you 6 francs - that's just over a euro. Unfortunately the machine is no longer in service. Today's rates have more than trebled - it's now €3.70 per hour. But you can now pay by card, which wasn't the case back then.

BUSINESS

Pakistan suffered a huge power cut early on Monday following a breakdown in its national electricity grid, the energy ministry said. Power was out in all the country's major cities, including the biggest city Karachi, and the capital Islamabad. The country's energy minister said this was "not a major crisis" and power would be back soon. Pakistan often suffers from power cuts, which are blamed on mismanagement and a lack of investment in infrastructure. Businesses, industries and homes often have their own generators which kick in when the electricity is cut.

Energy firms in the UK are to be investigated by the industry regulator following a sharp rise in the number of households being forced onto prepayment meters. The regulator, Ofgem, is also warning firms it will take legal action if they are not taking proper due care of vulnerable households. On Sunday, the government said suppliers should stop forcing households onto prepayment meters. Ofgem is also considering cheaper social tariffs for some on low incomes. It says these discounted energy bills could be a long-term option to tackle unaffordable bills.

The boss of satellite builders Space Forge has spoken of his disappointment that the firm’s orbiter did not complete its journey. The British company was responsible for ForgeStar-0, which was on board Virgin Orbit’s failed space launch this month. Chief executive Josh Western said the business was now working on its successor, ForgeStar-1.

SPORT

Tennis - Magda Linette reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 30 with a shock defeat of fourth seed Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open. Poland's Linette, ranked 45th in the world, won 7-6 6-4 against France's Garcia, who became the latest seed to fall in Melbourne. She had never before progressed past the third round of a major.

Elsewhere, fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka reached her first Australian Open quarter-final with a 7-5 6-2 win over Switzerland's Belinda Bencic. Sabalenka will next play unseeded Donna Vekic in what will also be the Croatian's first quarter-final in Melbourne.

Britain's Joe Salisbury and his American partner Rajeev Ram are out of the Australian Open men's doubles after a three-set defeat in the third round. Second seeds Salisbury and Ram, the 2020 champions in Melbourne, lost 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 to Monaco's Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski of Poland. They held match point in the second-set tie-break but could not convert it. It is the first time since the 2021 French Open that the pair have failed to reach the last eight of a Slam.

Gymnastics - Britain's Ellie Downie has retired from gymnastics at the age of 23 to prioritise her "mental health and happiness". Downie won 12 medals throughout her senior career including an all-round European Championship gold. She said she made the decision with a "heavy heart and an array of emotions". In 2020, Downie and her sister, Becky, said abusive behaviour in gymnastics was "ingrained" and "completely normalised". Last year, the Whyte review found systemic abuse in the sport in Britain.

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