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WEATHER

Emergency aid for northern France after storms Eunice and Franklin

France is to unlock a special emergency relief fund to help victims of storms Eunice and Franklin, which battered northern areas of the country in recent days.

Waves crash into a sea wall during storm Franklin
Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced: “At the request of the President and in order to express national solidarity with the victims of storms Eunice and Franklin, we are committing funds from the fonds de secours d’extrême urgence to the areas affected, on a one-off basis.”

This fund is “intended for individuals and families placed in a situation of great difficulty”, the release specified, and “will allow people in need following the passage of storms to obtain basic necessities, in addition to the assistance provided by local authorities”.

The départements of Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Seine-Maritime and Manche were in the path of both devastating storms, which passed within 48 hours of each other.

Storm Eunice seriously injured at least six people, crippled transport and caused damage to numerous buildings, including schools, while a couple in their seventies were washed away by waves when Storm Franklin lashed the north of the country.

A state of catastrophe naturelle has already been declared, as is required in order to unlock the emergency relief fund, and further aid may be mobilised “depending on the nature of the damage observed and the phenomena that caused them”, Darminin added.

The formal designation of catastrophe naturelle also means that people affected can benefit from an accelerated process when making insurance claims.

READ ALSO What does it mean when France declares a catastrophe naturelle?

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ENVIRONMENT

VIDEO: ‘Lost’ Orca whale heading up France’s Seine river

A young Orca whale that is apparently lost has been spotted heading up the Seine in northern France.

VIDEO: 'Lost' Orca whale heading up France's Seine river

The young whale was first spotted about a week ago near the port of Le Havre, around the Pont de Normandie, while the most recent sighting was further inland – about 20km from Rouen, in the Eure region.

France’s BFMTV managed to catch a video of the whale:

Experts think that the young male was separated from his group, and might be on the search for another. This typically happens when a matriarch in the pod dies.

“They are very social animals, so it is not easy for them to be alone,” explained Delphine Eloi of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group to RTL. Eloi went on to explain that the orca is likely in poor health, as its dorsal fin appears to be completely round. 

Killer whales, which despite their name belong to the dolphin family, are occasionally spotted in the English Channel but such sightings are considered rare, let alone in a river.

“Its life is in danger. We are really very, very worried. Its state of health is very poor,” said Gerard Mauger, vice president of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group. 

“The more it stays in fresh water, the more this will accelerate the degradation of its state of health,” he told AFP.

“It is far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to encourage it to head to salt water.”

He said the animal is “very thin” but likely weighs over a tonne.

Experts have reminded the public that the whale is likely not dangerous to people – there has never been a reported Orca attack on a human in the wild – though it is still advisable to keep a safe distance from it.

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