Disasters & Accidents

Severe heatwave, drought grips Italy

Rome, Jul 19 (EFE).- Italy was baking on Tuesday due to an intense heatwave that has brought suffocating temperatures and fueled wildfires amid the worst drought in 70 years.

The intense heat is driven by an anticyclone which has seen hot air currents from North Africa sweep across Western Europe with temperatures of up to 42C (108F) set to hit northern and central parts of the country.

“We walk in the shade, we try to go into stores to take advantage of the air conditioning and drink lots of water. But the heat is very intense,” a tourist in Rome, where thermometers hit 38C, told Efe.

Five cities were on alert for intense heat Tuesday but the situation is expected to worsen with up to 14 cities — including Rome, Bologna, Florence, Milan, Genoa and Turin — expected to be on alert by Thursday.

The intense heat is also fueling several wildfires, aggravated by the worst drought in decades due to a lack of rainfall which is affecting water flow in the river Po, the longest in Italy.

The southern regions of Sicily, Puglia and Calabria have been the worst affected by forest fires.

Since the start of the year, almost 23,000 hectares of land have been devastated in over 200 fires, the highest average recorded in Italy in the last decade. EFE


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