French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

A general view shows the flooded banks of the Seine River after days of rainy weather in Paris, France, January 8, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2018
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French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

  • The audit says says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs
  • About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels

PARIS: An audit commissioned by the French government says about 840 French bridges are suffering from serious damage and at risk of collapse in the coming several years.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government had already promised new infrastructure spending, but is coming under new pressure after Tuesday’s bridge collapse in neighboring Italy that killed 43 people.
The audit, published Sunday by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs. About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels, the audit says.
The audit doesn’t address thousands of other French bridges maintained by private companies or local authorities, which have seen budget cuts in recent years.
The government released a summary of the audit last month, blaming previous administrations for inconsistent and inadequate road funding, and saying the growth of traffic and increasing episodes of extreme weather have worsened the problem.
The Transport Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday. Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster Franceinfo last week that bridge “maintenance is our priority” and announced plans for a 1 billion-euro (($1.14 billion) plan to “save the nation’s roads,” including bridges and tunnels. She reiterated plans for a new infrastructure law after the summer holidays.
The Genoa bridge collapse has shined a spotlight on road maintenance in Italy. Italian investments in roads sank most dramatically among the top five European economies after the 2008 economic crisis, never fully recovering, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


German prosecutors press terror charges against Syrian man

Updated 53 min 24 sec ago
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German prosecutors press terror charges against Syrian man

  • The man, whose name was not given, allegedly joined the Ahrar al-Sham insurgent group in Syria from 2013 to 2014
  • Frankfurt prosecutors said he allegedly volunteered as a fighter and donated 50,000 Syrian lira to the group

BERLIN: Prosecutors say they've pressed charges against a 29-year-old Syrian man who allegedly was a member of a foreign terror group and violated the war weapons control law.
The man, whose name was not given, allegedly joined the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham insurgent group in Syria from 2013 to 2014.
Frankfurt prosecutors said Tuesday he allegedly volunteered as a fighter and donated 50,000 Syrian lira, then worth about 250 euros (284 dollars) to the group.
He was also in possession of a Kalashnikov and posed for photos for recruiting purposes showing him on pickup trucks using an anti-aircraft gun and a machine cannon.
The man was detained last February when he entered Germany for the second time. He first came to Germany as an asylum-seeker in 2015 but left again in 2017.