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Europe sizzles as temperatures rise towards 40C

Just days after lockdowns ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool on Tuesday as a mini-heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius.

Europe sizzles as temperatures rise towards 40C
AFP

Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius.

In some areas, the mercury was even seen topping 41 degrees Celcius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), such as Seville in southern Spain where people were cooling off in fountains or taking a dip in the Guadalquivir River in the morning, an AFPTV correspondent said.

Elsewhere in southern and western areas, temperatures have hovered around 40 degrees since Sunday, and by Tuesday nine regions were on high alert for the heat which was expected to last until Thursday, Spain's AEMET national weather agency said.

France was also experiencing its first heatwave with temperatures in the mid-30s expected to last until Thursday, Meteo-France said.

And Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country.

“Forget Ibiza… it's hotter here,” read the headline in Tuesday's Daily Express, as the Age Concern charity urged people to keep an eye out for elderly neighbours or relatives, particularly those living alone or self-isolating due to the virus.

Even the Nordic countries were expecting temperatures above 30 degrees this week, with Sweden's SMHI forecaster saying the hottest days would be Wednesday and Thursday and warning of the increased risk of forest fires.

Despite the soaring temperatures, Sweden's public health agency advised against using fans in communal areas of elderly care homes out of concern they could spread the virus.

They advised installing air conditioning or organising other means of shade to protect the elderly who would also be at risk from the heat.

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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