Lunchtime News Tuesday 17th August 2021


Fires in the Var - Thousands of people, including tourists in campsites, have been evacuated as a wildfire rages near the resort of Saint-Tropez.

Around 900 firefighters and water-dropping aircraft were battling the blaze in difficult conditions, with high temperatures and strong winds.

The quickly spreading fire, which broke out Monday about 100 kilometres from Toulon, had already affected more than 3,500 hectares of forest and scrubland as of this morning according to the fire department.

Evacuations have mainly taken place around Saint-Tropez and the villages of Le Mole and Grimaud, according to the fire department spokeswoman.

Local police have confirmed that several campsites were evacuated, and the authorities have asked people to avoid the roads around the Gulf of Saint-Tropez so that the emergency services can access the area.

The prefect of the Var announced shortly before 11am this morning that while the “fire had stopped in the south; new outbreaks were being detected”. Firefighters are still mobilized to try to contain the fire in the Var as weather conditions are not favorable with winds expected this afternoon.

Speaking to French radio the prefect said that “the wind expected this afternoon could cause a second outbreak but in the opposite direction”.

Meanwhile the mayor of Cogolin has said that "residents are refusing to leave their homes." Homeowners who have been evacuated are being told not to return to their homes. Many departmental roads are closed in the area and traffic between Bormes-les-Mimosas and Saint-Tropez is to be avoided at all costs.

At least 19 people have been poisoned and three people slightly injured, according to a "very provisional assessment", said the prefect of Var on France Bleu Provence.

In Grimaud, a hotel and a campsite were completely destroyed by the flames. Several people were injured while trying to escape the fire which approached very close to the village.

The mayor of La Garde-Freinet, one of the villages hit by the fire has compared it to those which have recently affected "Greece,Turkey, and Portugal" adding that the damage is "catastrophic from an environmental point of view”.

For the president of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (Sdis) of Var and the mayor of Le Luc, Dominique Lain, the origin of the fire leaves no doubt as he claims that “it was a human error as it started close to a motorway rest area”.

Covid figures for the Alpes Maritimes - According to the recent figures from Public Health France for the Alpes Maritimes region 300 people are currently hospitalized due to covid and 62 are in intensive care. Each day, more than 800 daily cases are detected in the Alpes Maritimes and between August 10th and August 16th, an average of four deaths occurred each day, in the department.

In Monaco 15 new cases of covid were declared on Monday 16th August bringing the total number of residents affected since the start of the epidemic to 3,074.

Twenty-five people are currently hospitalised and forty-three are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Castellar – Meanwhile the town hall of the small village of Castellar on the Côte d’Azur, has revealed that one in ten inhabitants of the village is covid positive. Speaking to local media the mayor says, “we can only be worried by the surprising situation”. In response to the situation antigenic tests will be carried out in Castellar tomorrow Wednesday 18th August.

First French plane to leave Afghanistan - France has carried out its first evacuations from Afghanistan after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of people desperate to leave after Taliban militants overran the country. At least five civilians were killed on Monday at the airport, but it is not yet known whether they were shot or killed in a stampede.  

The US military, who are in control of the airport, halted flights for most of Monday because it could not manage the situation. Media reports said the Afghan capital appeared calm on Tuesday.




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