Evening Update Thursday 27 June

Meteo France have issued a Red Weather warning for extreme heat in four departments in the south of France.  The rare top level alert is for the Vaucluse, Hérault, Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard departments. The Var and the Alpes Maritime remain on an Orange warning, one level below red. As the heatwave continues, this afternoon the prefects of the Var and the Alpes Maritimes has renewed the level 1 ozone alert for the departments for Friday. Speed limits on many roads in the Alpes Maritimes have been lowered by 20km per hour today to reduce pollution levels and the same measures will be in place tomorrow. That means that much of the A8 in the department has a limit of 90 km per hour, 70 in some places, and many departmental roads are limited to 70.  

180 schools in the Var are going to be closed tomorrow because of the heatwave. The schools are in 11 municipalities. No school closures are expected for tomorrow in the Alpes Maritimes. Temperatures have been breaking records again, with an overnight low of 26 degrees last night in Nice being the highest minimum temperature in June since records began. In the Bouches-du-Rhone, three forest massif areas have been closed to the public because of the fire risk in the heatwave. The fire risk level in those areas remains very severe and pompiers are calling for vigilance.

Meanwhile, soaring temperatures over Europe are said to be responsible for the deaths of three swimmers, who reportedly suffered from cold water shock on beaches near Montpellier.  A 70-year-old man reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest in calm water, while a 62-year-old woman and another man, aged 75, died in similar circumstances, according to French media.  Cold-water shock is the first stage of sudden immersion into water, usually with a temperature below 15C, and can instantly affect breathing and movement. French firefighters are warning people not to swim into water which is too cold during the hot weather and swimmers are being advised to enter the water gradually.

The body of a man has been discovered in Sanary in the Var in the early hours of this morning. Reports say that two intoxicated workers in a bar in the town were playing Russian Roulette.  One of the men shot himself in the head. The other worker is awaiting questioning about the incident.

A report published by the French Senate today indicates that at least 25,000 bridges in France are in poor structural conditions and pose safety and availability issues for users. Twenty three bridges have already been identified as needing urgent work, which is being carried out.  The report was commissioned after of the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa last year.

An arrest has been made in connection with the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. A 39 year old Bosnian man has been detained in Germany on a European arrest warrant issued by the Belgian authorities. He’s accused of "abetting a terrorist organisation" linked to the attacks.

A recent survey published today has shown that the current strike action by emergency services in France is massively supported, with 9 out of 10 French people in favour of the movement. The strike action has been in protest to poor working conditions and lack of resources with 36% of health professionals in the hospital sector suffering poor health in recent months as a result.


BUSINESS

Ford has said that it’s planning to cut about 12,000 jobs across its European operations by the end of next year. The company currently employs 51,000 people in Europe and hopes to achieve most of the cuts through voluntary redundancy.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M has reported pre-tax profits for the second quarter of 2019 of $639.6m, slightly down from $650m in the same period in the previous year. H&M said sales of its summer collections have got off to a good start so far and that it is selling more clothes at full price.

Kingfisher, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK and Castorama in France, has appointed Thierry Garnier as its new chief executive. He was previously with Carrefour for 20 years. Kingfisher has over 1,300 stores in 10 countries.


SPORT

Cricket… West Indies are playing India in the World Cup. India won the toss and went in to bat and at the end of their innings were 268 for 7.
Also in cricket news, former England batsman Marcus Trescothick is to retire from cricket at the end of the season. The 43 year old is in his 27th season as a professional and played 76 Tests for England.

Football… Barcelona have signed Brazilian goalkeeper Neto from Valencia for an initial 26m euros, plus 9m euros in add-ons. Neto joins the La Liga champions on a four-year deal.

Also in football news, Chelsea are expected to complete the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic despite being under a two-window transfer ban. The player spent last season on loan at Stamford Bridge, so Chelsea have already registered him.

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