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OIL

Grounded tanker leaks oil off Brittany coast

A cargo ship ran aground and spilled oil into the sea off the coast of France's northwestern region of Brittany early on Friday as a storm battered the region, officials said.

An oil slick was reported to be floating toward the coast between the city of Lorient and the Quiberon peninsula, according to the Brest maritime authorities.

Regional authorities were preparing to deploy equipment to try and contain the slick and to empty the ship of its 180 tons of fuel and 40 tons of diesel, it said.

All 19 members of the ship’s crew, which was flying the Maltese flag, were evacuated by helicopter, it said.

The storm has been battering the region of Brittany since Thursday night, with gusts of wind of up to 133 kilometres (83 miles) per hour and waves up to seven metres (yards) high.

The storm has left nearly 200,000 households without electricity and wreacked havoc on train traffic in Brittany and the Pays de la Loire region due to debris falling on tracks, according to regional authorities and the SNCF rail operator.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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