Firefighters are deployed en masse to contain the fires caused by the high temperatures. Thousands of hectares of forest have been destroyed in these countries since last week, many homes have been driven out by fire and many aid workers have died in the flames.
This is the second heat wave this year to sweep parts of southwestern Europe in weeks. Scientists blame climate change and expect more frequent and severe episodes of extreme weather, such as heat waves and droughts.
In several provinces of France, weather services have declared the code red due to the heat. Météo France expects temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in parts of southern France on Sunday. New temperature records are expected for Monday. “The heat is rising. A heat wave is spreading across the country,” the weather agency said.
In Gironde County, surrounding Bordeaux, firefighters are trying to get two bushfires under control that have devoured nearly 11,000 hectares (15,400 feet) since Tuesday. The bushfires forced the evacuation of more than 14,000 people, including tourists. Seven emergency shelters have been set up to receive the evacuees.
Spanish authorities have reported about 20 forest fires in several parts of the country, from the south to Galicia in the far northwest. A fire in the Mijas Mountains, near the southern port city of Malaga, has so far destroyed about 2,000 hectares of land. The fires forced just over 3,000 people to flee their homes, but about 2,000 of them have since returned.
In Spain, mercury rises above 40 degrees. A 60-year-old street sweeper died while working in the Spanish capital, Madrid, as a result of heat stroke.
The battle against the flames also claimed the lives of a number of aid workers, including a pilot who died when his plane crashed in northern Portugal. In Greece, two aid workers were killed when their helicopter fell into the sea.
In Portugal, it is being examined whether the state of emergency, in effect for a week, will be extended due to the heat. In the country, the mercury rose to 47 degrees last week, but the temperature is expected to decrease slightly slowly next week.
Forest fires have also been reported in Italy, including in Sicily, near Florence in Tuscany, near the seaside resort of Bibione and in the Abruzzo region. In Greece, 119 wildfires were reported within 24 hours on Sunday, including near the tourist town of Rethymnon on the island of Crete.
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