Mon, Jul 01, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Parts of Europe get relief from heat

GERMANY STILL WURST:Weather warnings were lifted across northern and western France along with Spain, but Germany yesterday faced another scorcher

AFP, PARIS

Six young women yesterday cool themselves in water in a pick-up truck that they had sealed with a plastic sheet in Unlingen, Germany.

Photo: AP / Thomas Warnack / DPA

A welcome dip in temperatures came to parts of Europe yesterday, bringing relief to areas which have sweltered through a widespread, deadly heatwave for nearly a week.

Hot-weather warnings were lifted across north and west France, days after the country posted all-time high temperatures as it sizzled along with Italy, Spain and some central European nations.

Six days of intense heat fueled huge blazes and pollution peaks, and officially claimed four lives in France, two in Italy and another two in Spain, including a 17-year-old harvest worker, a 33-year-old roofer and a 72-year-old homeless man.

The mercury was set to start dropping for France and Spain from yesterday, but still rise in Germany, with temperatures as high as 39?C in some places before cooling down starting today.

On Saturday night in Spain, firefighters were battling high flames in strong winds and blistering heat soon after they managed to contain another inferno in nearly 72 hours.

A fire that started on Friday in the central Spanish town of Almorox burned at least 1,600 hectares, spilling over into the Madrid region and forcing the evacuation of a village, emergency services said.

In France, fires have razed about 600 hectares and dozens of houses in the Gard department in the country’s south.

This is the same region where a new French record of 45.9?C was set on Friday, prompting the Meteo France weather service to issue its highest alert level of red for the first time.

Winegrowers in the south of France said their precious crops have been badly burned.

“Some vines seem to have been hit with a blowtorch,” Jerome Despey said, while Catherine Bernard likened it to the effects of a hairdryer.

“I’ve been a winegrower for 30 years. I have never seen a vine burnt by a sudden onset of heat like yesterday,” Despey added.

France is the seventh European country to ever register a plus-45?C temperature, along with Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia, Meteo France said.

France remains haunted by the memory of the devastating heatwave of August 2003 in which nearly 15,000 people were estimated to have died.

“I want to appeal to the sense of responsibility of citizens — there are avoidable deaths in every heatwave,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

Meteorologists point to a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the scorching early European summer.

Scientists have said that global warming linked to human fossil fuel use could make such heatwaves more frequent.

In Germany, the national weather service said temperatures were more than 4 degrees higher last month than an international reference period of 1981 to 2010.

The stifling heat caused air quality to nosedive in some European cities, prompting local authorities to take anti-pollution measures. In Paris, Lyon and Marseille, authorities banned the most polluting cars from the roads.

In related news, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday said climate-related devastation was striking the planet on a weekly basis and warned that urgent action must be taken to avoid a catastrophe.

“We are here because the world is facing a grave climate emergency,” he told a two-day meeting in Abu Dhabi that is preparing for a summit in New York in September.

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