Between forest fires and heat wave, southern Europe on high alert

Between forest fires and heat wave, southern Europe on high alert

Southern Europe is rocked by a heat wave and massive forest fires.

From Portugal to Greece, fires raged across southern Europe on Thursday, battered by a suffocating heat wave that is expected to peak in the Iberian Peninsula.

In Greece, this blaze battle left two dead on Wednesday, when a helicopter crashed into the sea while trying to put out a forest fire on the island of Samos, the coastguard announced on Thursday.

Portugal, whose center has been ravaged by fires since last Thursday, experienced 200 fire starts on Wednesday, the highest number since the start of this heat wave.

Today& #x27;today is the day to be the most careful, warned Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. More than 2,000 firefighters are still mobilized across the country to fight in particular against four major outbreaks still active from north to south.

Today will be the most serious day in terms of rising temperatures, a stronger easterly wind that can fan the flames and lower humidity levels. , continued Mr. Costa.

According to the latest report from the Portuguese civil protection, these fires left one dead and around sixty injured.

About 1,500 firefighters were mobilized to put out three forest fires that have been raging for more than 48 hours in central and northern Portugal.

In France, high temperatures also complicated the task of firefighters fighting since Tuesday in Gironde, in the south-west, against two forest fires having already burned nearly 4000 hectares, in particular near the very touristy dune of Pilat, whose access was closed “until& #x27;under further orders.

For fear of other fires starting, the launches of fireworks, private or public, which traditionally take place on the occasion of the national holiday of July 14, have been prohibited until Monday evening in Gironde and in the neighboring department of Landes.

In Spain, the most worrying fire has already devastated at least 4000 hectares in a mountainous area straddling the regions of Extremadura and Castile and Leon, not far from Portugal.

Several smaller fires have also broken out in Italy or Croatia, according to the European Copernicus system.

After several days of suffocating temperatures, the Iberian Peninsula should experience the peak of this Thursday heat wave expected to last through Sunday.

In Spain, where a maximum of 45.6°C was recorded on Wednesday in southern Andalusia, the weather agency expects Thursday to be the hottest day of this wave episode. heat. Almost the entire country remained on high alert, with several central, southern and western regions at the highest level.

The forecast is similar in Portugal, where 46.3°C were recorded on Wednesday in the center of the country.

In France, this heat wave episode could push the mercury up to 40°C Thursday in the Rhône Valley and the South-West.

Portuguese people are trying to control a fire in the center of the country, where temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius.

The intensity of this second heat wave in a month in the country, which should last until the middle of next week, could be equivalent to the deadly heat wave of August 2003 (with nearly 19,500 dead in France), noted Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo-France.

The boss of the fire brigade, Grégory Allione, called on him for an urgent reinforcement of the French system for combating fires, threatened to be overwhelmed by global warming.

We will have to equip ourselves even more, because the device could crack if we were to be subjected to several large outbreaks of fire at the same time on the territory, he told AFP.

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This intense heat wave is expected to affect other parts of Western or Central Europe in the coming days, such as the United Kingdom, where the weather agency ( Met Office) expects temperatures above 35°C from Sunday.

In this context, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has decreed a temperature emergency plan extreme measures to help people experiencing homelessness, including distributing water and sunscreen while the TUC union federation has called for a ban on working if the indoor temperature exceeds the 30°C.

This heat wave is the second in barely a month in Europe. The multiplication of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming, according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.

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