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heatwave scorches Europe; health warnings are issued

Europe deals with a scorching heatwave; health officials react.

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Authored by Kylie MacLellan and Catarina Demony

Portugal’s Leiria and Britain’s Westminster Reuters reports that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of On Friday, hundreds more people were evacuated from their homes in France, Spain, and Portugal because of wildfires that were spreading across the region. European officials issued health warnings for the coming days because of the heatwave.

Two blazes in southwest France that have been fanned by scorching heat, high winds, and tinder-box conditions have been fought since Tuesday by more than 1,000 firefighters, supported by water-bomber planes.

In spite of a slight drop in temperatures, authorities in Portugal warned that temperatures could still rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas. Five districts were placed on red alert, and more than 1,000 firefighters were assigned to the fight against 17 wildfires.

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According to Spain’s Environment Ministry, 17 wildfires had been put out across the country.

Drought has dwindled Italy’s longest river, the Po, into a trickle for the first time in 70 years.

Following its hottest July since 1800, Italy has declared an emergency along the Po River, which supports about a third of the country’s agricultural production. Temperatures are expected to rise next week.

Authorities are concerned about the impact on public health and healthcare systems already challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic as the scorching heat sweeps Europe, with warnings issued for worse to come in particular for the United Kingdom (UK).

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An air pollution problem is expected to worsen in towns and cities due to the heatwave, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Particulate matter and other pollutants are trapped by a “stable and stagnant atmosphere,” a World Meteorological Organization scientific officer said at a Geneva press conference.

Because of this, air quality suffers, which is especially bad for the most vulnerable, according to the study.

Porto’s health minister said on Thursday that the heatwave had put the health care system under “particularly worrying” strain, and that some hospitals were nearing capacity.

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The DGS health authority in Portugal reported 238 extra deaths between July 7 and July 13 as a result of the heatwave. According to the National Epidemiology Center’s database, 84 extra deaths were attributed to extreme temperatures in the first three days of the heatwave.

A UK WARNING

First red “extreme heat” warning issued for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday by Britain’s weather forecaster.

According to Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen, “exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week.”

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The nights will also be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas, he said. As a result, “people and infrastructure can expect widespread impacts.”

On July 25, 2019, Cambridge recorded a temperature of 38.7 C (101.7 F), the hottest temperature ever recorded in Britain.

An expert on climate change at the University of Reading, Hannah Cloke, said the heatwave proved that climate change had arrived and that we needed to adapt immediately.

“This is happening now, and it’s only going to get worse in the near future. We’ve got to act now “she told Reuters

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“It’s difficult to deal with these temperatures in the UK because we’re not used to them.”

In Pinhao, north of Lisbon, the highest temperature on Thursday was 47 C (116.6 F), which is just below the record for the city.

A hill covered in highly flammable eucalyptus and pine trees compelled retired British man Raymond Loadwick, 73, of Leiria, Portugal, and his dog Jackson to flee their home on Tuesday.

A day later, his white house was still standing, but all of the vegetation surrounding it had been burned to ashes and his fruit trees had been destroyed. In an interview with Reuters, Loadwick expressed his fear that fires will occur more frequently in the future: “You have to be on your guard.”

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More than 11,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in France’s Gironde region since wildfires erupted around Dune du Pilat and Landiras. Burned area is estimated at 7,350 hectares (18,000 acres). The fires had not yet been extinguished, according to authorities.

Four more small Spanish villages were evacuated late on Thursday and early Friday due to wildfires raging in Extremadura, which borders Portugal, and central Castilla y Leon.

An old monastery and a national park built in the 1600s are now under fire. Many people have been forced to flee their homes since the blazes broke out, and 7,500 acres of forest were razed in both regions.

Catalonia’s northeastern region of Catalonia has imposed a ban on camping and sporting activities in 275 towns and villages in order to reduce the risk of fire.

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Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris, Emma Pinedo and Christina Thykjaer in Madrid, William James in London, and Emma Farge in Geneva; Writing by Alison Williams and Editing by Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson.

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