Paris fire: Eight dead and many injured at apartment block

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Eight people including a baby have died in a fire at an eight-storey building in south-western Paris, fire service officials say.

Nearly 30 people – including six firefighters – were injured. One person is in a serious condition.

50 people were evacuated by ladders from the blaze in the upmarket 16th arrondissement.

The Paris prosecutor says it may have been deliberately started. Police have detained a female suspect.

While the fire was raging, a police source says she was suspected of trying to set fire to a car parked nearby. The suspect, who lived in the building, was reportedly drunk and is said to have justified her actions as the result of a conflict with a neighbour.

Housing Minister Julien Denormandie said the 40-year-old woman was known to psychiatric services.

The fire was brought under control after a five-hour operation, but the death toll could still increase, a fire service spokesman told the AFP news agency.

‘Apocalyptic situation’

The fire spread across the two floors of the 1970s building on Erlanger street shortly after 01:00 (00:00 GMT), forcing some residents to scramble on to nearby rooftops to escape the flames and smoke.

About 250 firefighters were deployed to the scene not far from the Bois de Boulogne park, helping to rescue those trapped on the roofs.

“When we arrived, we were faced with an apocalyptic situation. Lots of people were calling for help from the windows”, the spokesman said.

Six firefighters are among the injured, reports French broadcaster BFMTV.

“The layout of this building – which is a modern residential building in a good state of repair – meant that the firefighters, and we must pay tribute to their professionalism, had to evacuate the victims from the facade of the building using ladders because it was impossible to get into the courtyard of the building, which is in the shape of an H,” Emmanuel Grégoire, Paris deputy mayor, told Reuters news agency.

Surrounding buildings in the area have been evacuated as a precaution. Town hall officials have been tasked with finding alternative accommodation, reports Le Parisien newspaper. Nearby roads have been blocked.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has sent her condolences to the victims, and is on her way to the site.

The city council plans to honour the victims with a minute’s silence at 09:00.

Just a few weeks earlier, four people were killed after a huge blast at a bakery in the centre of the city.


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HMV chain saved but some stores will close

Canadian firm Sunrise Records has emerged as the buyer of collapsed music chain HMV, beating competition including Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

The firm will buy 100 stores out of administration, securing 1,487 jobs.

But 27 stores will close, resulting in 455 redundancies.

Sunrise Records chief executive Doug Putman said he was “delighted to acquire the most iconic music and entertainment business in the UK.”

No price was given.

Administrators KPMG, who ran the business until a buyer could be found, say they will tell staff this morning if their store is closing before saying which stores will be lost.

Canadian entrepreneur Mr Putman, 34, bought the retail chain Sunrise Records in 2014.

He previously bought HMV’s Canadian business in 2017, expanding his small chain into a national operation with 80 outlets.

‘Heritage brand’

Mr Putman is also President of Everest Toys, the largest toys and games distribution company in North America.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that HMV was a “fantastic, heritage brand”.

He also said the chain would be looking to stock more vinyl records, in response to customer demand.

Who is Doug Putnam?

Mr Putman’s first successful business venture started when he was 16 and involved recruiting his friends to sell fresh local produce. His family also run Everest Toys, one of the largest toy wholesalers in North America.

In 2014 Mr Putman bought Sunrise Records, a regional record shop chain founded in Toronto in the 1970s.

Like other bricks-and-mortar music vendors, it had been struggling with the rise of platforms like iTunes and Spotify, but Mr Putman proceeded to open new locations.

And after HMV went into administration in January 2017, Mr Putman announced that Sunrise would be taking over scores of the chain’s Canadian locations.

According to Canadian broadcaster CBC last year, his aim is to capitalise on the renewed interest in vinyl records, and passion for local music. Store autonomy is important, he said.

While a large portion of any store’s catalogue will be the same as other stores, another big chunk will be unique.

“I think you lose something when everything’s exactly the same,” Mr Putman told CBC. “Essentially every store has a different assortment. If metal is really big in that area, they can stock more of that.”

Mr Putman also owns a restaurant called The Granit in Bancroft, Ontario, and Makin Waves Marine, a boat dealer.

“I feel really lucky to be able to say we [will] continue to call it HMV,” he told the programme. There had been speculation that the shops might be rebranded as Sunrise Records stores after Mr Putman’s rebranding of HMV’s Canadian business.

“It is very clear that the customer wants more selection on vinyl, more depth of catalogue,” he said.

“There’s in no doubt that online is a big part of overall retail sales. But people like to come into a store, have an experience, talk with someone who understands music, loves music, loves video and entertainment. If you think online is the only future I don’t think that is the case.”

He added: “There is so much you get from come into a store that you can’t get online.”

HMV collapsed in December, its second administration in six years.

Until now, Mr Ashley had been the likely favourite to take over the music retailer.

As the owner of more than 60% of Sports Direct, he has bought retailers including the House of Fraser department store chain and Evans Cycles.

His company also owns stakes in French Connection and Debenhams.

Shrinkage?

HMV owner Hilco, which took the company out of its first administration in 2013, has blamed a “tsunami” of retail challenges for the latest collapse.

These include business rate levels and the increasing use of streaming services to deliver music and movies.

HMV sold 31% of all physical music in the UK in 2018 and 23% of all DVDs, with its market share growing month by month throughout the year.

However, the music industry expects physical entertainment sales to shrink by another 17% this year.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator said: “We are pleased to confirm this sale which, after a complex process, secures the continued trading of the majority of the business.

“Our immediate concern is now to support those employees that have unfortunately been made redundant.”

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: New Formula 1 deal for Baku race

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku will continue until at least 2023 after organisers renewed their deal.

The renewal is the first signed in 2019 and follows new agreements for the Belgian, Chinese, German, Japanese and Singapore races in the past two years.

Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey said the race “has become one of the most popular of the season”.

Azerbaijan’s sports minister Azad Rahimov said the move would allow the race to “maximise commercial revenues”.

He added: “With these exciting opportunities in mind, extending our contract was never in question and we are delighted to stay in this wonderful sport for another five years at least.”

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is held on a street circuit in Baku and took place for the first time in 2017.

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton won there in 2018, before going on to win a fifth World Championship.

The 2019 race takes place on 28 April.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: New Formula 1 deal for Baku race

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku will continue until at least 2023 after organisers renewed their deal.

The renewal is the first signed in 2019 and follows new agreements for the Belgian, Chinese, German, Japanese and Singapore races in the past two years.

Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey said the race “has become one of the most popular of the season”.

Azerbaijan’s sports minister Azad Rahimov said the move would allow the race to “maximise commercial revenues”.

He added: “With these exciting opportunities in mind, extending our contract was never in question and we are delighted to stay in this wonderful sport for another five years at least.”

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is held on a street circuit in Baku and took place for the first time in 2017.

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton won there in 2018, before going on to win a fifth World Championship.

The 2019 race takes place on 28 April.

Obasanjo campaigns for Buhari’s re-election in U.S.

From left: Alhaji Nasiru Danu (The Dan Amarna of Dutse & Director of Logistics, PMB Campaign Organisation), Olujonwo Obansanjo and Festus Keyamo

Mr Olujonwo Obasanjo, son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has taken his campaign for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States.

Obasanjo, who is the President of Buhari Youth Organisation (BYO), said he was in the United States to solicit support for Buhari’s re-election among Nigerian diasporas and other members of the international community.

He explained that his support for the re-election of the president was borne out of Buhari’s focus on youth empowerment and securing the future of the country for the Nigerian youth.

Obasanjo said while in the United States, he participated in several activities aimed at projecting the administration.

“I participated at the United Nations International Day for Education, promoted by the Nigerian Government through the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

“Education is one of the tenets of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, focusing on youth empowerment, youth participation and securing a better future for our generation and the generations to come.

“I also participated at the Nigerian American Business Forum where I met with many Nigerian professionals and their American counterparts. I went to Atlanta to visit our sister organisations there and to inaugurate many of our organisations.

“I also went to Detroit where we inaugurated some of the organisations. We also have many Buhari support organisations in New York as well.

“We have Buharists in the United States and all over the world. So I am here to encourage them and to support them in every way we can,” he said.

He said his support for Buhari was because he stood out among other presidential candidates because of his determination to bequeath a secured future for the youth of Nigeria.

He said Buhari had opened up the space for the youth of the country to participate politically and economically.

“Recently, there was the women and youth campaign wing that was inaugurated by the president, which showed that he wants to ensure that the youth and the women have a strong voice in his re-election campaign.

“We believe that by doing that, Mr president wants us to be part of his administration. Mr president is one who has made us believe again in our country, who has made us proud of our country.

“At the international stage, we are not being looked at as a pariah nation. So I believe for Nigerians at home and Nigerians in the diaspora, they have seen that Mr president is the best candidate deserving of their support.

Mr Haruna Madisca, Organising Secretary of The Buhari Youth Organisation, also said Buhari was a man of integrity with the fear of God that Nigeria needed at this time.

He berated the plan by Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if elected, saying the plan was questionable, adding, Buhari had provided enabling environment for small businesses to thrive.

Madisca, who is President, Goron Oil and Gas Limited, said through the NNPC Renewable Energy Department, there is a $25 million investment in cassava in Kogi that would be producing 40,000 litres of bio-ethanol per day.

“The investment start-up on a turnkey basis is $25 million. The plant will employ over 2,500 people on a full time basis,” he said, adding such investment was at risk should NNPC be sold to private investors. (NAN)

Obasanjo campaigns for Buhari’s re-election in U.S.

From left: Alhaji Nasiru Danu (The Dan Amarna of Dutse & Director of Logistics, PMB Campaign Organisation), Olujonwo Obansanjo and Festus Keyamo

Mr Olujonwo Obasanjo, son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has taken his campaign for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States.

Obasanjo, who is the President of Buhari Youth Organisation (BYO), said he was in the United States to solicit support for Buhari’s re-election among Nigerian diasporas and other members of the international community.

He explained that his support for the re-election of the president was borne out of Buhari’s focus on youth empowerment and securing the future of the country for the Nigerian youth.

Obasanjo said while in the United States, he participated in several activities aimed at projecting the administration.

“I participated at the United Nations International Day for Education, promoted by the Nigerian Government through the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

“Education is one of the tenets of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, focusing on youth empowerment, youth participation and securing a better future for our generation and the generations to come.

“I also participated at the Nigerian American Business Forum where I met with many Nigerian professionals and their American counterparts. I went to Atlanta to visit our sister organisations there and to inaugurate many of our organisations.

“I also went to Detroit where we inaugurated some of the organisations. We also have many Buhari support organisations in New York as well.

“We have Buharists in the United States and all over the world. So I am here to encourage them and to support them in every way we can,” he said.

He said his support for Buhari was because he stood out among other presidential candidates because of his determination to bequeath a secured future for the youth of Nigeria.

He said Buhari had opened up the space for the youth of the country to participate politically and economically.

“Recently, there was the women and youth campaign wing that was inaugurated by the president, which showed that he wants to ensure that the youth and the women have a strong voice in his re-election campaign.

“We believe that by doing that, Mr president wants us to be part of his administration. Mr president is one who has made us believe again in our country, who has made us proud of our country.

“At the international stage, we are not being looked at as a pariah nation. So I believe for Nigerians at home and Nigerians in the diaspora, they have seen that Mr president is the best candidate deserving of their support.

Mr Haruna Madisca, Organising Secretary of The Buhari Youth Organisation, also said Buhari was a man of integrity with the fear of God that Nigeria needed at this time.

He berated the plan by Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if elected, saying the plan was questionable, adding, Buhari had provided enabling environment for small businesses to thrive.

Madisca, who is President, Goron Oil and Gas Limited, said through the NNPC Renewable Energy Department, there is a $25 million investment in cassava in Kogi that would be producing 40,000 litres of bio-ethanol per day.

“The investment start-up on a turnkey basis is $25 million. The plant will employ over 2,500 people on a full time basis,” he said, adding such investment was at risk should NNPC be sold to private investors. (NAN)