Extreme heat, wildfires blight southern Europe

Madrid, Jul 13 (EFE).- Southern Europe is enduring an extreme summer heat wave that has brought suffocating temperatures and fueled wildfires.

In Portugal, some 700 people were evacuated from their homes due to blazes in central and southern parts of the country, according to the National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC).

In the outskirts of the central city of Leiria, 41 people were injured, two of which are in serious conditions, due to fires, the ANPC added.

Police are investigating the death of a woman whose charred body was found in a corn field after a small rural fire near Porto, which initial reports suggest could have been an accident.

Several wildfires have also swept across northern and central Italy as the country is experiencing the worst drought in 70 years.

Near the northern city of Bolzano, firefighters were battling a blaze that broke out Tuesday afternoon and that has affected a large area of mixed forest and trees, according to emergency services.

Another wildfire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the central region of Tuscany, where two helicopters and six teams of firefighters were involved in efforts to extinguish the blaze.

The drought, which has affected the north of the country due to a lack of water in the river Po, the longest in Italy, is making it more difficult to control the fires, emergency services said.

Extreme heat alerts were in place across Spain, with warnings that temperatures could rise as high as 42C in traditionally cool Galicia, while the mercury could hit 44C in Andalusia and Extremadura, two of the country’s hottest regions, Spain’s weather service Aemet said.

In Madrid, where temperatures were set to reach 40-41C, animals at the zoo were given ice lollies and showers as a relief from the scorching heat.

In western Spain, over 450 emergency service personnel are on the scene to help battle a wildfire that has forced 400 villagers from their homes around Monsagro, not far from the Portuguese border in Castile and Leon.

Local authorities said the fire was “extremely virulent.”

Several other fires were reported across Spain on Wednesday.

Meanwhile in France, some 6,500 people were evacuated as a precaution from their homes near Bordeaux as forest fires spread across the area.

The heat wave is also worsening air quality in France, as air quality monitoring company Airparif has put out an alert for the peak levels of ozone pollution in the air, especially surrounding the Paris region.EFE


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