Evening Update Thursday 19 August 2021

Police have opened an official investigation into the massive forest fire which ripped through the hinterland of St Tropez this week. The fire started on Monday, sometime between 5pm and 6pm at Les Sigues rest area on the A8 autoroute.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.

The second victim of the fire has been named. She was the 32 year-old woman from Paris, who was last heard from on Monday night when she called friends to say she could see fire approaching her holiday cottage. The first victim was the owner of the cottage near Grimaud who was found nearby.

After a cooler night with calmer winds, the fire is more contained now but continues to burn. This afternoon fire-fighters are concentrating on the area of Cannet-des-Maures near the junction of the A8 and the A57 autoroutes. As a result there are speed restrictions and road closures across the entire area.

Since Monday, the massive fire has destroyed almost 7,000 hectares and damaged 50 houses. Seven fire-fighters and 22 other people have also been slightly injured including 19 for poisoning.

A fourteen year-old teenager has been shot dead, and two younger children injured, as part of a gangland shooting in Marseilles. Police say the shooting was carried out by two people on a motorbike as part of a settling of accounts between city gangs.  The Mayor of Marseilles has appealed to the state, to make the fight against arms trafficking a priority. He says buying a Kalashnikov in Marseilles, is as easy as buying pain-au-chocolat. The death today brings the total amount of people who have died in gangland violence this year to eleven.

France has added Morocco and Algeria to its red travel list. Passengers from those countries, who are not vaccinated, will need a compelling reason to enter France, and then have to spend ten days in mandatory isolation.

There were scuffles this afternoon at Nice TNL as protestors against the health pass tried to enter the shopping centre without a pass sanitaire. About 20 people managed to get past security guards before national police arrived and took them outside. The protesters demanded President Macron be sent to prison promising that soon they would be millions.

Meanwhile, the extension of the Pass Sanitaire has led to a 40% rise in Covid tests across France. Almost 6 million tests were conducted last week, compared to 4 million the week before. The increase was particularly strong among 25-40 year olds. From mid-October this year, Covid tests will cease to be free, unless prescribed by a doctor.

French police have become the latest public service obliged to have a Covid vaccination. The measure already applies to medical workers, firefighters and ambulance drivers. The vaccination will become obligatory for police from September 15th.

BUSINESS

Goldman Sachs are to buy the Dutch asset management firm NN Investment Partners for €1.7bn.  The deal is their biggest acquisition in three years and part of a strategy to make the bank’s revenue stream less reliant on earnings from global markets. NN Investment Partners has $335 billion in ‘assets under management’.  That will double what Goldman Sachs manages in Europe to more than $600 billion.

Today, France receives its first payment of €5bn as part of the European Recovery Plan. France’s Minister of Finance said the country should return to its pre-crisis level of activity by Christmas, ahead of the initial forecast of January 2022.

A global shortage in computer chips has forced Toyota to almost halve its worldwide car production. The world’s biggest car manufacturer had managed to avoid this by extending summer shutdowns by a week in France and other European plants. However, now they say production will drop 40% from next month. Volkswagen, the world's second-biggest car producer, has warned it may also be forced to cut output.

The IMF has said Afghanistan will no longer be able to access the lender's resources following the Taliban's takeover last weekend. They say it’s due to a lack of clarity within the international community over recognising the new regime. The IMF had been due to send $370m to Afghanistan on August 23rd.

SPORT

Tennis - Former world No 1 Simona Halep has withdrawn from the Cincinatti Masters with a small tear to her right adductor. It is the latest injury setback for the Romanian who missed the French Open and Wimbledon, due to a left calf tear.

Motorbike Racing - The MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix scheduled for October has been cancelled due to Covid restrictions. However, the race will be replaced, on the same dates, with a race at the Misano circuit in San Marino.

Football - Harry Kane will not be lining out with Spurs for tonight’s Europa Conference League match in Portugal. This is the second game Kane has missed after last Sundays match against Manchester City. Although it’s reported Kane wants to leave the club, the Spurs manager says Kane will join the group on Friday and Saturday and they will make a decision on whether he could face Wolves on Sunday.

Scotland and Manchester United legend Denis Law has announced that he has been diagnosed with dementia. Law, a Ballon d'Or winner in 1964, won 55 caps for Scotland, and scored 30 international goals, to become one of the country's greatest ever players. Alongside his team-mates Bobby Charlton and George Best at Manchester United, the three were known as the United Trinity.

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