Record heat has killed more than 1,000 people in Western Europe over the past week as firefighters battle to contain blazes scorching swaths of three countries amid a worsening climate emergency, say officials said over the weekend.
El País reports that the heat killed 360 people in Spain between July 10 and 15. This follows the heat-related deaths of more than 800 people last month, according to the Spanish government’s Carlos III Health Institute. Madrid-Barajas International Airport recorded a record temperature of 108°F on Thursday, while some Spanish municipalities recorded highs of 110°F to 113°F.
A 60-year-old Madrid sanitation worker collapsed in the middle of the street while working on Friday. The man was rushed to hospital with a body temperature of over 106°F and died of heatstroke. He was one of 123 people who suffered heat-related deaths in Spain on Friday.
In drought-ravaged Portugal, where temperatures soared to over 116°C in Pinhão on Friday, the Health Ministry said on Saturday that 659 people, mostly elderly, died of heat-related causes over the of last week.
In Britain, the UK Met Office on Friday issued its first-ever red extreme heat warning for Monday and Tuesday, when an “exceptional heatwave” is expected to hit the country.
AccuWeather Senior meteorologist Tyler Roys said “there are fears this heat could become a long-lasting heatwave” extending into August in places such as “the valleys of Hungary, eastern Croatia, eastern Bosnia, Serbia, southern Romania and northern Bulgaria”.
Parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia are also suffering from heat waves and wildfires.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people in France, Spain and Portugal have been evacuated as firefighters battle out-of-control wildfires burning in parts of those countries. More than half of Portugal is on red alert as firefighters scramble to contain 14 separate blazes.
According to Associated press:
Hungary, Croatia and the Greek island of Crete also battled wildfires this week, as did Morocco and California. Italy is in the midst of an early summer heat wave associated with the worst drought in its north in 70 years – conditions linked to a recent disaster, when a huge chunk of the Marmolada glacier crashed detached, killing several hikers.
Scorching temperatures even reached northern Europe. An annual four-day walking event in the Dutch city of Nijmegen announced on Sunday that it will cancel the first day, scheduled for Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to peak at around 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit).
Studies have shown that the man-made climate emergency increases the frequency and severity of heat waves.