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Environment

France's heatwave ends, arsonists arrested in Corsica

media A fire near the Corsican village of Tavaco in 2009 Stephan Agostini/AFP

France's summer heatwave is over, with temperatures falling to under 30°C for the first time for five days in many areas. The dry period has made the main ascent up Mont Blanc dangerous and seen forest fires in Corsica, with two men arrested for arson on the French Mediterranean island.

The official weather forecaster, Météo France, lifted its orange heatwave alert from all 43 départements that had been covered by it at 5.00am on Sunday morning.

But it kept 68 départements at the next level, yellow alert, advising care especially on river banks, and warned of summer storms in the Massif Central mountains and in Alsace-Lorraine in the east.

Temperatures were expected to be in the high 20°Cs across the country on Sunday, falling to 20-26°C on Monday, apart for on the Mediterranean coast and Corsica, where they were forecast to be 29-30°C.

Mont Blanc danger warning

Officials in the Alps warned that the main ascent up the famous Mont Blanc mountain had become dangerous Sunday due to the exceptionally dry weather.

They advised mountain-climbers to start early in the morning if they planned to tackle the Goûter Couloir, which is used by 17,000 climbers every summer.

Nicknamed the "Corridor of Death", the route at 3,300 metres height is regularly subject to rockfalls, which become worse during heatwaves because snow and ice melt leaving stones free to fall.

Men arrested for setting Corsica fires

A 20-year-old Corsican was detained on Saturday evening after being caught red-handed lighting a forest fire near the central town of Corte, police sources say.

He has reportedly confessed to causing five others between 23-25 August but police believe he is responsible for 12 in total.

The worst destroyed 20 hectares of vegetation in Poggio-di-Venaco in the north of the island.

He denies started two others - one at Barbaggio that devastated 540 hectares and one in Corte on 22 August that destroyed 60 hectares.

A psychiatrist's report has diagnosed him a pyromaniac and declared that he has diminished responsibility.

On Thursday a 27-year-old member of the island's forest fire brigade was sentenced to six months in prison and barred from exercising his profession after being found guilty of setting a fire in Vezzani, northern Corsica.

The mountainous island, much of it covered by brush and forest, is regularly hit by wild fires during the summer and northern Coriscan has had about 30 since Wednesday, most of them caused by arson according to firefighters.

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