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.


Tornado destroys homes, causes power outage near Canadian capital

Updated 3 min 6 sec ago
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Tornado destroys homes, causes power outage near Canadian capital

  • Gatineau city bears the brunt of 190 kph gusts
  • Ottawa emergency services office says around 30 people were injured, five seriously

OTTAWA: A tornado sparked chaos near the Canadian capital Ottawa on Friday, injuring dozens as homes were damaged, cars flipped over, and over 130,000 people left without power, local media said.
Meteorologists reported gusts whipped up to around 120 miles per hour (190 kilometers per hour), with the city of Gatineau, about five miles north of the capital, taking the brunt.
Images on social media showed homes with damaged rooftops and trees torn apart, as debris was seen swirling through the air in dramatic video footage.
“There was a power cut and less than a minute later, the wind began to hit the windows,” Vincent-Carl Leriche, who filmed the video, told AFP.
“The debris was flying everywhere, I had never see anything like it except in Hollywood,” the 30-year-old, from Gatineau’s Mont-Bleu neighborhood said, adding he saw sofas and freezers that had been blown into the street.
Ottawa emergency services official Anthony Di Monte told local media around 30 people were injured, five seriously.

Meanwhile, electricity company HydroQuebec reported over 130,000 customers were without power in the Ottawa area Friday evening.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged residents to check on neighbors who might need help.
“We’re monitoring the situation and thinking of everyone affected,” he said on Twitter.
A weather alert was put in place Friday afternoon for all of southern Ontario and Quebec. Winds eased by the time they reached greater Montreal, which was hit by heavy rains but escaped major damage.