Europe suffers deadly heatwave as forest fires displaced thousands of people

Paramedics help a patient get into an ambulance during a heatwave in Barcelona, ​​Spain, on Monday, July 18, 2022.

Angel Garcia | Bloomberg | beautiful pictures

A deadly heatwave in Western Europe has sparked wildfires, disrupted transport and displaced thousands as the continent grapples with the effects of climate change.

The record heat is expected to intensify further this week and raise concerns about infrastructure problems such as melting roads, widespread power outages and warping train tracks.

According to the national weather forecast, some areas in France have experienced record temperatures approaching or surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In the UK, where few homes have air conditioning, the highest temperature has also been up. approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the national record.

Firefighters work at the site of a forest fire in Pumarejo de Tera near Zamora, northern Spain, on June 18, 2022.

Cesar Manso | AFP | beautiful pictures

At least five countries in Europe have declared a state of emergency or red alert as wildfires, fueled by hot conditions, burn across France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Over the past week, more than 31,000 people have been displaced from their homes by fires in the Gironde region of southwestern France.

Climate change has made heat waves and droughts more common, more intense and widespread. Dry and hot conditions have also exacerbated wildfires, which have become more destructive in recent years. And lower nighttime temperatures often provide relief on hot days is disappearing as the Earth warms.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain said on Monday that he had visited the bushfire-affected areas in the western region of Extremadura. “Climate change kills people, our ecosystems, and what is most precious to us,” said Sánchez.

Tourists flock to Levante beach in Benidorm to cool off the high temperatures as a heatwave sweeps across Spain on July 16, 2022 in Benidorm, Spain.

Zowy Voeten | beautiful pictures

At least 350 people have died in Spain from high temperatures in the past week, according to Spanish estimates Carlos III Health Institute. In Portugal, health officials say nearly 240 people died in the first half of July from extreme heat, which reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this month.

In the UK, train service is limited due to concerns that the tracks will be warped by the heat. The UK’s Met Office, for the first time issued a red warning for heat, the most severe warning level. And Wales recorded its highest-ever temperature of 98.8 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, according to Britain’s national weather agency.

An aerial view shows boats in the dry bed of Lake Brenets (Lac des Brenets), part of the River Doubs, the natural border between eastern France and western Switzerland, in Les Brenets on July 18 year 2022.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | beautiful pictures

Flights have also been delayed and disrupted to and from Luton Airport in London After a defect was identified on the runway surface due to excessive heat, according to the airport. Temperatures hit 94 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday in north London and are forecast to rise on Tuesday.

As people across Europe endure the heat, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issue a stark warning to leaders from 40 countries gathered in Berlin to discuss climate change responses within the framework of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

“Half of humanity is in danger from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No country is immune. Yet we continue to be addicted to fossil fuels,” he said. Guterres said in a video sent to leaders Monday.

—Associated journalists contributed reporting.

Beachgoers react, as smoke is generated by a wildfire in the forest of La Teste-de-Buch, Arcachon, France, July 18, 2022.

Pascal Rossignol | Reuters

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