Disasters & Accidents

Dangerous heat wave grips Mediterranean with record high temperatures

(Update 1: adds Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France and Greece details)

International Desk, Aug 12 (EFE).- A dangerous heat wave is gripping the Mediterranean region, leading to widespread fires across the region and record high temperatures putting many parts of the region on red alert.

Deadly wildfires continued to devour areas of southern Italy Thursday a day after a meteorological station in the Sicilian city of Syracuse registered a temperature of 48.8C (119.85F), potentially the highest ever in Europe.

The new record, which is awaiting verification from the World Meteorological Organization, tops the 48 degrees measured in Athens in 1977.

The rest of the southern regions remain on alert: Calabria, the tip of the Italian “boot”, which reached 42 degrees Celsius, today expects highs of 38 degrees, the same as Campania, with its capital in Naples, and Lazio, the region of Rome.

In Tunisia, temperatures Thursday exceeded 50 degrees Celsius and in Morocco and Algeria, where at least 69 people have died from wildfires, thermometers reached up to 47C.

The temperatures recorded in Tunisia are the highest in its history with thermometers recording 50.2C in the central city of Kairouan.

The temperatures are the highest ever recorded in the African continent and the second highest in the world, according to the National Institute of Meteorology.

??The last time the country reported similar figures was in 2005 in the southern region of Tataouine, at the gates of the Sahara Desert, when temperatures reached 50.1 degrees.

Most of Spain is on alert for temperatures that could exceed 44 degrees with the northeastern regions of Aragon and Catalonia at extreme risk.

Spain’s northern regions including Galicia and Cantabria will be spared from the heat wave despite authorities having taken preventive measures such as prohibiting the use of agricultural machinery and access to forests and other natural sites.

The heat has also reached France, where peaks of 40 degrees are expected in the southeast of the country.

Authorities have called for extreme caution in the Drôme and Alpes de Haute Provence departments, where temperatures are expected to be 4 to 5 degrees above normal for this time of year.

After two weeks of suffocating heat in Greece where temperatures reached 46 degrees, storms at the break of dawn Thursday brought a slight drop in temperatures and the rains helped control fires on the hardest hit island of Euboea.

Some 90,000 hectares of land have burned across Greece, according to preliminary estimations, in an unprecedented environmental disaster. EFE


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