Evening Update Wednesday 5 February 2020

The A8 motorway was briefly closed in both directions earlier this evening because of a vehicle fire. The motorway was closed to traffic between Junction 52 Nice St Isadore and Junction 54 Nice Nord. A heavy goods vehicle carrying hazardous materials had caught fire in the area. The carriageway in the direction towards Aix-en-Provence re-opened first, followed by the carriageway in the direction of Italy. Early this evening, traffic was still heavy in the direction of Italy as pompiers were still on the scene after extinguishing the blaze.

Police opened fire on an armed man in Trans-en-Provence near Draguignan last night. The man had barricaded himself in his home after cutting himself with a knife, apparently during a marital dispute. Law enforcement personnel started negotiations with the man and Bac anti-crime forces from Frejus arrived at the scene. The man aimed a gun at police who shot him in the leg and then fired a shot from an electric pulse gun when he refused to release the weapon. He was taken to hospital in Toulon and an investigation has been opened.

Another day of strike action against pension reforms is due to take place tomorrow with disruption expected to public transport. Some schools in our region are also expected to be disrupted.

Two teenage girls have been taken into custody after an attack on a disabled man at Grasse railway station. Reports say that a man with mental disabilities was violently assaulted and robbed by a group of four teenagers in the early hours of yesterday morning. The attack was seen on CCTV and officers arrived while the attack was still in progress. The man was taken to hospital in Grasse.

Four suspected illegal immigrants were arrested on board a train at Antibes station this morning. TER services were briefly delayed while authorities located the individuals who were hiding inside an electrical cabinet on the train. They were placed in custody in Antibes before being transferred to Cannes.

Two bodies have been discovered in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence which are believed to be those of two men missing since early December. The two friends in their twenties were last seen in Carcassonne in the Aude department on December 3. Despite public appeals by the police, nothing further was heard from them and the vehicle in which they were travelling couldn't be located. A judicial investigation was opened for kidnapping and forcible confinement by the prosecutor's office in Aix-en-Provence. The bodies were discovered in undergrowth in the village of Revest-du-Bion in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and investigations will now continue to confirm their identity.

A fire has destroyed 2,000 square metres of a traveler’s camp  near Arles in the Bouches du Rhone. No one was injured, but several sheds and vehicles were destroyed by the fire. Several gas canisters exploded during the blaze and a number of ignited gas leaks, along with strong winds, made it difficult to extinguish the blaze. An investigation has been opened to determine the cause. 

An epidemic of the seasonal flu has now been declared in all areas of France. New data shows that there was a sharp increase in flu cases last week. The number of people who went to hospital A&E departments because of the flu rose by 56% from the previous week and, of those, 72% more were admitted to hospital than in the previous week.

 

BUSINESS

Airline Cathay Pacific has asked staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave to help it cope with the impact of the coronavirus. The carrier had already been hit by the effect on passenger demand of several months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong. It has offered a voluntary special leave scheme to all employees from 1 March to 30 June.

Demand for new cars in the UK fell by 7.3% last month, according to industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The organization blamed confusion over diesel and clean air zones, and weak consumer and business confidence. However, "alternatively-fuelled vehicles" reached a record market share of 11.9% in January, up from 6.8% in the same month last year.

The UK's services sector, which makes up about 80% of the country's economy, experienced the strongest influx of new orders since mid-2018, according to the latest data from a widely watched survey. The purchasing managers index climbed to 53.9 in January, up from 50.0 in December, and was the strongest figure since September 2018.

Shares in tobacco company Imperial Brands fell earlier today after it gave a profits warning. The warning was because of the impact of a US regulatory ban on some flavours of cartridge-based vapour devices.

 

SPORT

Rugby Union… England winger Anthony Watson will miss Saturday's match against Scotland in the Six Nations. Watson is still suffering from a calf injury. He was in training yesterday but suffered a recurrence of the problem and sat out today’s session.

Formula 1… Sports authorities in Shanghai have recommended the suspension of all sporting events in the city as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The move casts further doubt on the Chinese Grand Prix, which is scheduled to be held in Shanghai on 19 April. The issue will be discussed by Formula 1 bosses at a meeting tomorrow.

Cricket... Former Australia batsman and coach Darren Lehmann is to have heart bypass surgery after suffering chest pains earlier today. He was taken ill while watching his son captain a Cricket Australia XI against England Lions on the Gold Coast. Today is Lehmann's 50th birthday.

Olympics.... The organizers of the Tokyo games say they are "seriously concerned" by the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Several qualification events have already been impacted by the virus, including a women's basketball qualification tournament which was moved from China to Serbia. Japanese government officials say they will work hard to minimise any impact on the Games, which start on 24 July.

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah has withdrawn from 'The Big Half' race on 1 March with a minor Achilles injury which he suffered during training. Farah will defend his 10,000m title at the Tokyo Olympics.

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