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Teenager arrested after electricity cut at French vaccination centre

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By Euronews with AFP
Authorities say more than 5,300 vaccine doses may have been affected by the powercut.
Authorities say more than 5,300 vaccine doses may have been affected by the powercut.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michel Euler, File
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French authorities investigating an intentional powercut that affected a vaccination centre have arrested a teenager.

The 17-year-old was detained and placed into police custody on Wednesday.

He is suspected of having voluntarily cut the circuit breakers and emergency generator of a COVID-19 vaccination centre in the western town of Audincourt.

The power cut -- which lasted less than an hour and a half on Sunday -- had "endangered the 5,383 doses of vaccines" stored in the building.

Initially, the town hall had indicated that just 3,500 doses were potentially affected. The damage was repaired within hours by the town's technical services, authorities said.

The doses affected were withdrawn and had been sent to a hospital for analysis as a "precautionary measure", Audincourt's mayor Martial Bourquin said.

"The vaccination centre at La Filature was deliberately vandalised," Bourquin said in a statement on Monday.

"These acts were committed with the intention of destroying the storage of vaccines in order to slow down the vaccination movement in the Pays de Montbéliard. These acts are unacceptable and unspeakable."

On Thursday, prosecutors said the suspect had told investigators there was no "malicious" or "political" intent behind his actions.

Officials said there was "no indication" that the teenager had tried to oppose vaccinations, and had done so instead "out of curiosity".

But the suspect remains under investigation for the "attempted destruction of property intended for public use".

"For nearly eighteen months, we have been suffering from an unprecedented health crisis: we have all lost a loved one, suffered the consequences of confinement," he said.

"Since January, the vaccine has been the only hope for a return to normal life ... Only by reaching a coverage rate of 90% of the population will we be able to turn the page for good."

The Audincourt vaccination centre serves the southern part of the city, Montbéliard, an urban area of about 70,000 inhabitants.

Two other vaccination centres in France were ransacked over the weekend as people protested against the introduction of tougher coronavirus rules.