France battles raging fires on Cote d’Azur

A firefighter runs with a hose as he tries to put out a fire in Biguglia, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 25 July 2017

France battles raging fires on Cote d’Azur

MARSEILLE, France: Thousands of firefighters battled forest fires in large areas of southeast France Tuesday, with one “extremely virulent” inferno raging near the jetset resort of Saint-Tropez, emergency services said.
The blazes have consumed 3,000 hectares (11 sq. miles) of land along the Mediterranean coast, in the mountainous hinterland and on the island of Corsica — at the height of the region’s holiday season.
Over 2,000 firefighters and 19 aircraft, including 10 Canadair water bombers, have been mobilized to quench the flames.
With strong winds and tinder dry conditions spelling danger for a second day, the government has asked its European Union partners to send two extra air tankers.
A fire in La Croix-Valmer near Saint-Tropez, a favorite resort with the rich and famous, was still “extremely virulent and difficult to control,” the regional head of security Stephane Bouillon told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday morning.
The blaze had already gutted 400 hectares of coastal forest in an area dotted with homes, he said.
In Corsica, scores of firefighters worked through the night to tamp down a wall of flames that threatened homes in the town of Biguglia in the northeast.
The blaze, which consumed 1,500 hectares of forest, engulfed a sawmill and burned several vehicles.
“It’s the apocalypse!” a local resident told AFPTV.
By Tuesday morning, the wind had abated and the situation had been brought under control.
In the Luberon, an area of hilltop villages and lavender fields in Provence, fires consumed around 800 hectares around the village of Mirabeau and a neighboring hamlet.
Around 100 homes had to be evacuated, according to officials, but by Tuesday firefighters had managed to secure residential areas.
Another blaze in Carros, north of Nice, burned a house, three vehicles and a warehouse and led to some homes being evacuated, according to regional authorities.
Speaking to France Info radio, Mayor Charles Scibetta described waking up to a “lunar landscape” and said the inhabitants had had a lucky escape.
“All of France is mobilized,” the head of the fire service in southeast France, Col. Gregory Allione told France Info, adding that extra firefighters had been drafted in from the north.
Southeast France is experiencing an exceptionally hot, dry summer that have made it especially vulnerable to fires.
In mid-July, a blaze believed to have been ignited by a cigarette butt tossed out of a car ripped through 800 hectares of land near Aix-en-Provence.

At least 8 killed in blast near Kabul University

Updated 19 July 2019

At least 8 killed in blast near Kabul University

  • No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack
  • Explosion happened when a number of students were waiting near the campus gate to attend an exam

KABUL: At least eight people were killed and dozens more wounded Friday when a bomb detonated near a major university in Kabul while students were waiting to take an exam, officials said.

The blast comes amid an unending wave of violence across Afghanistan, where civilians are being killed every day in the country’s grueling conflict, now in its 18th year.

The Taliban denied any involvement in Friday’s blast, which took place near the southern entrance to Kabul University, an official with the interior ministry’s media office said.

Health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said the death toll had reached eight, with another 33 injured.

“Wounded patients have been receiving the required medical and surgical treatment,” he said on Twitter.

The heavily militarized Afghan capital remains one of the highest-profile targets for both the Taliban and the so-called Daesh group, with both regularly launching devastating attacks that often kill and maim civilians.

Bahar Mehr, the interior ministry official, said five people had been killed including a traffic police officer.

“The wounded were law students gathered for (an examination). We do not know how many students had gathered there,” he said.

The blast had been caused by a sticky bomb, he said, a common threat in Kabul where criminals and insurgents often slap explosives under vehicles.

Local media reports said police had been pursuing the vehicle when it detonated.

“The university and the examination ceremony were not the target of the attack, and we are investigating,” Firdaws Faramarz, Kabul police spokesman, told TV network TOLO.

Last week, Daesh claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at a wedding ceremony in Nangarhar province.

The hard-line Sunni extremists have a growing footprint in Afghanistan and the United States wants to leave a counter-terrorism force in the country to tackle them in the event of a peace deal with the Taliban.