Thursday 17 October 2019

Macron's national service off to a bad start as teens collapse in heat


French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Reuters

David Chazan

Emmanuel Macron's new-look national service has got off to a shaky start this week, with 29 teenagers in the first group of recruits succumbing to heat exhaustion during a ceremony in Évreux, near Paris.

Some fainted under the blazing sun as they stood in uniform at the town hall in temperatures higher than 30C. First-aiders had to rush at least 10 of the young recruits indoors.

Guy Lefrand, the mayor of Évreux, said: "Two or three were more seriously affected and one had to be taken away for medical care [by ambulance]."

The incident, during the unveiling of a statue of post-war head of state Charles de Gaulle, is embarrassing for Mr Macron, who made bringing back national service a key election pledge.

The French president is the country's first head of government not to have done compulsory military service, which was abolished in 1996.

The first batch of 2,000 recruits embarked on his updated version of the scheme at the weekend.

Hundreds of politicians, public personalities and cadets also attended the unveiling of the statue on Tuesday, the anniversary of General de Gaulle's appeal to resist the Nazis in 1940.

Irish Independent

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