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MONDO EUROPE: Dire dryer decision goes down like a house on fire

The French village of Chambon-sur-Lignon, which has just benefitted from a surprise windfall - Credit: Getty Images/Photononstop RF

STEVE ANGLESEY brings you some of the recent stories you might have missed from the continent.

A man who used a blow-dryer to thaw a frozen water pipe set his home in southwest Germany on fire, causing 300,000 euro (£262,000) worth of damage.

Police in Kämpfelbach-Ersingen said they believed the dryer had been left unattended in an attic room and then forgotten, starting a fire that caused two floors of the three-storey house to collapse.

The homeowner and another resident were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

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A ring of Spanish hashish dealers fitted their cars with makeshift James Bond-style defence systems to foil police.

The Civil Guard said each vehicle had a hole cut out of its roof into which had been fitted a nozzle connected by a tube to a fire extinguisher. The apparent intention was for the driver or passenger to distract chasing cars by firing foam at them.

However police claimed the fact that they had made 36 arrests in Malaga and Cadiz as well as seizing 11 road vehicles, a boat and 3,150 kilograms of hashish showed that 007’s gadget supplier Q has nothing to worry about. A spokesperson said: “The proof of this is that we have stopped them.”

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The Netherlands has tightened regulations governing how Covid-19 vaccines are transported after it was revealed that some were being driven in sandwich vans.

A firm specialising in croquette rolls – which contain logs of meat ragu covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried – delivered 550 doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine in its refrigerated vans after volunteering.

Léon Tinke, head of a pharmaceutical trade association, said: “The help offered is of course well-intentioned, but the transport of a delicate and expensive vaccine is not the same as a croquette sandwich.”

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The lifting of lockdown restrictions in the Polish ski resort of Zakopane led to two nights of alcohol-fuelled incidents. Police broke up brawls on the streets and in boarding houses, arrested a man for demolishing a petrol station shop, rescued sleeping drunks from snowdrifts and moved on a group of several dozen people who had gathered to sing and dance in the middle of the town’s busy Krupówki Street.

Police said crowds were larger than expected because of Valentine’s Day, qualification heats for the ski-jumping World Cup on the local slopes and because Slovakian tourists had flooded over the border ahead of tougher new lockdown laws in their country.

A spokesman said: “There were a lot of intoxicated people, and some had to be picked up straight from the street to keep them from freezing.” 



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An Austrian Jew who was hidden by residents of a small town in southern France during the Second World War has left its 2,500 inhabitants 2 million euros (£1.75million) in his will.

Erich Schwam, who died in December aged 90, asked for the money to be spent on youth projects and development in Chambon-sur-Lignon, a haven for Jewish refugees during the war.

Schwam, who arrived in 1943, was one of up to 4,000 fugitives who were sheltered by locals in private homes and farms in the remote and mountainous area.

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An elderly couple from Sicily were taken to hospital suffering from hallucinations after mistakenly eating psychoactive mandrake leaves in their salad, according to doctors.

The 69-year-old man and his 67-year-old wife spent three days in intensive care after the husband collected the leaves while out walking, believing they were borage. Part of the deadly nightshade family, mandrake is highly toxic and can produce visions and out-of-body experiences.

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Residents in the La Chapelle area of Paris are demanding the removal of organic street toilets which have caused “litres of pee” to flow down an ‘urban garden’ promenade that cost 7000,000 euros (£612,000).

Waste from the two urinals and a cubicle was supposed to be converted into fertiliser and used in wheat fields. However, locals say that a tank that holds up to 1,000 litres of urine has been emptied only irregularly, causing leakages and a foul smell.

The revamped area under the elevated train line between Barbès and Stalingrad stations was supposed to emulate New York City’s High Line as a tourist attraction, but a resident said: “It is horror. Litres of pee flowing on the pavement and no one to clean it up. The horror!”

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