Evening Update Tuesday 17 August 2021

Several roads have been cut off between Port Grimaud, and Bormes-les-Minosa on the coast and the towns of Cogolin and Gonfaron inland, as almost a thousand fire-fighters continue to battle a huge blaze in the hinterland of St Tropez.

President Macron, who is on leave at nearby Fort de Bré-gan-çon, has broken his holiday to visit the site with the Minister of the Interior late this afternoon.

He spoke with several Mayors from the area and got a direct update from the emergency services on the ground. Currently, almost a thousand fire-fighters continue to battle the monster blaze which covers a 30km long area from Le Luc on the A8 motorway down to Bormes-les-Mimosa on the coast. It has already destroyed 6,000 hectares. The smell of smoke can be felt in Fréjus and the smoke has triggered an air pollution alert on Corsica.

Since last night, over 7,000 tourists and residents have been evacuated, as 180 fire trucks and 15 fire fighting aircraft have been brought in to contain the fire. All forests and massifs across the Var are at severe risk of fire today and access is strictly prohibited. The area Prefect has warned any residents who see fire coming toward their house, to place damp cloths on the doors and windows to prevent smoke entering.

A local mayor has compared the fire to those which have recently affected Greece, Turkey and Portugal, adding that the damage, from an environmental point of view, is catastrophic.

As regards the source of the fire, the President of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service for the Var says there is no doubt it was caused by a human as it started close to a motorway rest area.

In other news, water company Véolia say they are treating water in Antibes, Biot and La Colle sur Loup to soften high levels of lead and nickel. The high PH value of the water makes it more acidic, and long term it can corrode pipes. Since last week, residents have been advised to run water for two minutes before using it. Véolia say that in addition to treating the water, they have shut down one of the four sources of water supply to the area, and conducted some major purges to empty problematic water from the system.

Details have been announced of a back-to-school grant to help three million low income families cope with the extra expense of returning to school in September. The grant varies from €370 for a six-year old, to over €400 for teenagers. To qualify parents must earn under 25,000 per year for a single child or 37,000 for a parent with three children. The grants are made available by the CAF.

BUSINESS

Businesses across the EU are recruiting more workers as pandemic restrictions ease and the economy returns to growth. Almost two thirds of adults in the European Union are now fully vaccinated with the economy across the 19 nation block expected to expand by 4.7% this year.

Following China’s announcement it is ready for ‘friendly cooperation with Afghanistan’, financial analysts have warned that the Chinese may try to exploit the country’s rare earth metals. Afghanistan has elements which are used in everything from electronics to electric vehicles, aircraft and satellites and is said to be worth up to $3 trillion US dollars. Meanwhile Facebook has announced that it has banned ‘Taliban related’ content on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, as the company considers them to be a terrorist organisation.

SPORT

Football - Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has completed a €40m euro move to the Italian club Roma. Abraham, who was Chelsea's joint top scorer last season, moves to the Serie A club on a five-year deal.

Real Madrid’s boss has firmly quashed rumours of a return to the club by Cristiano Ronaldo. He said Cristiano is a real legend and has all his love and respect. However, he never considered re-signing him as Real Madrid look forward, not back.

Tennis - France’s Richard Gasquet has been knocked out of the Cincinnati Masters by Britain’s Andy Murray. Murray, who has won the competition twice, beat Gasquet 6-4 6-4.

At the same competition, Naomi Osaka broke down in tears during a press conference, forcing her to leave the room for a few moments to compose herself. It’s the first time Osaka has spoken publicly since she was forced to leave the French Open, after organisers threatened expulsion for refusing to attend any press conferences in Paris.  Responding to a reporter’s question in Cincinatti, Osaka says she has problems balancing the fact that she has both the US Open and Australian Open twice, but feels embarrassed to walk out of her house in fear of what people might say.

And French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas says he would only get the COVID-19 vaccine if it became mandatory to compete in tennis. He recognised that at some point he will have to but so far, it hasn't been mandatory to compete, so he hasn't done it.

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