Morning headlines: Wednesday 20th March 2019

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.

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New poll show only small changes in party fortunes

With less than a month to go before the general election on 14th April, the latest opinion poll from Helsingin Sanomat newspaper shows only small changes in public support for the different parties. None of the top nine parties shows their support changing, up or down, by more than half a percentage point. The Social Democrats stay on top of the pack at 21% support while the National Coalition party lose support in second place at 18.1% and the Centre Party also loses support down to 14.3% in third place. Greens are up to 14% in 4th and the Finns Party loses support at 11.1% in fifth place.

Early morning fire forces Kontula apartment evacuation

A fire in an apartment building in Kontula forced residents to evacuate in the middle of the night. The alarm was raised around 07:00 this morning at the three storey building in Tanhuankuja. When rescue crews arrived they found an apartment on the second floor on fire, and evacuated other residents. There is no word yet on any injuries caused by the blaze.

Report: Russian authorities stopped 1000 illegal border crossings

A story from Lännen Media this morning says that Russian border authorities prevented more than a thousand people from crossing illegally into Finland last year. The Finnish Border Guard apparently received information on these numbers from their Russian counterparts. Major General Pasi Kostamovaara, quoted by Lännen Media, says that this number is five times higher than in previous years. One possible explanation for such a high number of illegal crossing attempts could be the FIFA World Cup which was held in Russia last year. Visitors were able to travel to Russia without a visa, and some took the opportunity to try to come to Finland. The report says that those visitors who were stopped account for the spike in illegal crossing attempt statistics.

Finland’s drug driving deaths on the rise

The number of deaths caused by drivers who had taken drugs is on the rise. The Institute for Accident Information OTI studied all fatalities between 2013 to 2017 that were caused by driver intoxication, and according to their findings the number of deaths caused by drug drivers rose by two-in-ten compared to the previous study period 2008 to 2012. The number of drug-related accidents is one third of all fatal road crashes.

Applications open for autumn university and polytechnic places

The application process opens today for thousands of university and polytechnic places at Finnish institutions today. It’s a process held twice each year in spring and autumn and continues until 3rd April. Applicants will be notified if they were successful at the end of June, to start new courses in the autumn.

UN study: Finland is the ‘world’s happiest country’. 

A study by the United Nations out this morning claims that Finland is the ‘happiest country in the world’ for the second year in a row. The UN’s World Happiness Report puts Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria in the top ten. The research was carried out through polling which asked about social security, economic issues, and individual freedom.

Wednesday morning weather 

Today is the spring equinox, when there’s an equal amount of day and night in the northern hemisphere. The brightest sunshine is found this morning in Lapland where temperatures drop down as low as -11C in the far north west. Across the rest of the country there’s a fair amount of cloud cover but with sunshine peeking out around Tampere, Turku and the capital city region making for bright moments this morning. Temperatures range from -5C in Rovaniemi to -1C in Lahti and +1C in Hanko and Åland.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 20th March 2019 / Credit: FMI