Europe braced for new high temperatures on Tuesday under a relentless heatwave and wildfires that burned swathes of the Northern Hemisphere, forcing the evacuation of 1,200 children near a Greek seaside resort.
Health authorities are sounding alarms from North America to Europe and Asia, urging people to stay hydrated and shelter from the scorching sun, in a stark reminder of the effects of exposure. -global warming.
Europe, the world’s fastest-warming continent, is bracing for the peak of today’s heatwave to hit the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia, where a high of 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) is predicted by the European Space Agency.
The previous European temperature record was 48.8C recorded in Sicily in 2021, according to the UN weather agency.
Near Athens, emergency services battled wildfires for a second day in several locations around Athens.
“Our main concern is to protect human life,” fire department spokesman Yannis Artopios told the press.
Several houses were on fire in the area, according to footage from public broadcaster ERT.
A forest fire was burning in strong winds in the popular coastal town of Loutraki, where the mayor said 1,200 children had been evacuated from holiday camps.
“Extreme weather … has a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economy, agriculture, energy and water supply,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“This underscores the growing urgency to cut greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible.”
Historic high forecast
In Europe, Italians were warned to brace for “the worst heatwave of the summer and also one of the worst of all time” as temperatures hit nearly 39C in Rome on Monday.
American Colman Peavy couldn’t believe the heat as he sipped a cappuccino in a cafe with his wife Ana at the start of a two-week vacation.
“We’re from Texas and it’s very hot there, we thought we could escape the heat but it’s even hotter here,” said the 30-year-old.
It was already the world’s hottest June on record, according to the EU’s weather monitoring service, and July looks set to break records as well.
Spain enjoyed a slight reprieve, with a temperature of 44.7C reported on Monday in the southern city of Jaen.
In Cyprus, where temperatures are expected to remain above 40C until Thursday, a 90-year-old man died of heatstroke and three other elderly people were hospitalized, health officials said.
Parts of Asia are baking in record temperatures, causing torrential rains.
China reported a new high for mid-July in the northwest of the country, where the temperature reached 52.2C in the Xinjiang region’s Sanbao village, breaking the previous high of 50.6C set. six years ago.
Heatstroke alerts have been issued in 32 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, mostly in the central and southwestern regions.
At least 60 people were treated for heatstroke, media reported, including 51 who were taken to hospitals in Tokyo.
A quarter of a million people were evacuated in southern China and Vietnam before a major typhoon slammed into the coast on Monday, bringing fierce winds and rain and forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and trains.
US climate ambassador John Kerry spoke with Chinese officials in Beijing, as the world’s two biggest polluters revived stalled diplomacy on reducing planet-warming emissions.
Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People alongside top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on Tuesday, Kerry stressed the need for “global leadership” on climate issues.
‘Oppressive’ heat in the US
In the western and southern states of the US, which are used to high temperatures, more than 80 million people are subject to advisories as a “widespread and oppressive” heatwave is roasting in the region.
California’s Death Valley, normally one of the hottest places on Earth, reached a near-record high of 52C on Sunday afternoon.
In Arizona, the state capital of Phoenix tied its record 18 consecutive days above 43C (109F), as temperatures hit 45C (113F) early Monday afternoon.
The US National Weather Service is predicting similar highs at least until Sunday, while warning overnight lows remain dangerously high, above 32C (90F).
“We’re used to 110, 112 (degrees Fahrenheit)… But not the streaks,” Nancy Leonard, a 64-year-old retiree from the nearby suburb of Peoria, told AFP. “You just have to adapt.”
In southern California, several wildfires have been burning for the past few days in rural areas east of Los Angeles.
The largest, named the Rabbit Fire, had burned nearly 8,000 acres and was 35 percent contained as of Monday morning, according to authorities.
In neighboring Canada, 882 wildfires were active as of Monday, including 579 considered out of control, authorities said.
Smoke from the fires has again descended on the United States, prompting air quality alerts across much of the northeast.
© 2023 AFP
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