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PARIS

Huge fire destroys warehouse at giant Paris market

A major blaze swept through part of one of the world's biggest fresh produce markets on the outskirts of Paris on Sunday. 

Huge fire destroys warehouse at giant Paris market
Smoke from the blaze at the Marche d'Interet National (MIN) in Rungis, greater Paris, could be seen from several kilometres away. Photo by Aurore MESENGE / AFP

 The fire destroyed a fruit and vegetable warehouse at the Rungis complex to the south of the French capital.

Flames spread shortly after noon, the authorities said, sending a dark plume of smoke billowing over the southern suburbs.

A hundred firefighters brought the fire under control by mid-afternoon and there were no injuries, the fire brigade said.

The warehouse, about the size of a football pitch, belonged to Les Halles Mandar group.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in a building at the “Rungis International Market” wholesale food market in Rungis, south of Paris. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

“It’s a shock, but we’re glad there were no injuries”, boss Shaoul Abramczyk said.

“We will not be able to fulfil our partners’ orders from Monday and for several days”, he added.

“When a market operator is the victim of a tragedy of this nature, the whole market is struck at its heart”, Rungis market head Stephane Layani said.
 

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CULTURE

Rebel ballet dancer and TV judge suddenly quits Paris Opera

One of the best-known male dancers at the Paris Opera, who has won a big following outside ballet for working as a judge on the French equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, on Wednesday quit the company after months of tension.

Rebel ballet dancer and TV judge suddenly quits Paris Opera

Francois Alu, 28, known for his rugged physique and virtuoso leaps, will leave the Paris Opera so he has “complete professional freedom”, both parties said in a joint statement published by the opera.

The news was unexpected, coming just seven months after the Paris Opera named Alu an etoile (star), its highest-ranking title, after intense pressure from ballet fans for the promotion.

But there has also been tension over his highly publicised role as a judge on Danse avec les stars (Dance with the Stars), the French equivalent of the smash hit BBC show in Britain Strictly Come Dancing.

“I have decided to regain my complete professional freedom in order to be able to fully realise my artistic aspirations,” Alu said in the statement.

The Paris Opera emphasised that the decision came after a “dialogue” between the two sides and would allow “new forms of collaboration” by Alu with the company.

“This decision is the culmination of the close dialogue we have had with Francois in recent months, said the Paris Opera director Alexander Neef.

Alu has also been touring France with a solo show. But to the chagrin of his fans he never danced at the Paris Opera since being named “etoile”, which is unprecedented.

His departure comes at a turbulent time for the Paris Opera ballet, with former dancer Jose Martinez in December set to take over from Aurelie Dupont as head of the company.

Such high-profile departures are relatively rare with the last such example in 1989 when superstar ballerina Sylvie Guillem walked out to focus on an international career.

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