The Deadly Spanish Heatwave

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A heatwave is rolling across southern Europe, fuelling wildfires, exacerbating droughts in Italy and Spain and leading the Greek authorities to close some of the most popular tourist sites.

Europe’s extreme June heat clearly linked to climate change, research shows. Blazes have broken out across southern Italy and Sicily, where the temperatures have climbed above 40C this week.

What do the forecasters expect?

A yellow level 2 heat health watch alert has been issued by the Met office meaning there is a 60% or above risk of threshold temperatures being reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days. This may affect vulnerable people.

Who is most at risk?

The most at risks groups to heatwaves include, the elderly; babies and children; chronic illness sufferers; people on medication affected by heat; people who spend a lot of time in the sun through work or sport and immobile people.

The World Wildlife Fund said thousands of people, animals and a nature reserve were at risk around the volcano. “The situation is extreme, so extraordinary action needs to be taken,” it said.

Two big fires also broke out in an area north of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, in the Sicilian city of Catania.

To cope with the rising temperature municipal authorities in Athens also opened air-conditioned “friendship clubs” for the elderly and infirm. The organisations were being kept open from 8am until 8pm, said Stamatia Leontopoulou a municipal employee.

“A lot of older people who can’t afford to keep their homes cool and are vulnerable have been coming in,” she told the Guardian. “Everyone is saying ‘thank God this heat wave is not as bad as the last one a couple of weeks ago.'”

In Spain, where , seven southern provinces were on their highest heat alert with temperatures forecast to rise above 44C on Thursday.

According to the state meteorological office, Aemet, the temperature in the town of Córdoba in Andalusia was expected to reach 47C at midday.

Aemet said the heatwave had been caused by a mass of hot air from northern Africa and a lack of clouds over the Iberian peninsula. It said cooler weather would not set in until the weekend.

Killer heat due to global warming means much of the planet faces rising fatalities, a study shows. By 2100, almost half of people on the planet will be at risk of heat-related illness or death – even if emissions fall.

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