Europe suffers deadly heat wave as wildfires displace thousands

A deadly heat wave has caused fierce wildfires, disrupted transport and displaced thousands of people in Western Europe as the continent grapples with the effects of climate change.

The record-breaking heat is forecast to become more severe this week and has prompted concerns over infrastructure problems such as melting roads, widespread power outages and deformed rail tracks.

According to the national weather forecaster, many regions of France have experienced record-breaking temperatures that have reached or exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In Britain, where some homes have air conditioning, the highest temperatures have also reached nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the national record.

Firefighters work at the site of a wildfire in Pumarejo de Tera, near Zamora, northern Spain, on June 18, 2022.

Cesar Manso | AFP | Getty Images

At least five countries in Europe have declared a state of emergency, or red warnings, as wildfires ignite hot conditions across France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. More than 31,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the Gironde region of southwestern France in the past week.

Climate change has made heat waves and droughts more common, intense and widespread. Dry and hot conditions also exacerbate wildfires, which have become more destructive in recent years. and low night temperatures that usually provide significant relief from hot days Disappearing as the Earth warms.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday that he had visited areas affected by wildfires in the western region of Extremadura. “Climate change kills people, our ecosystem, and what is most precious to us,” Sanchez said.

Tourists fill Levante beach in Benidorm to quell high temperatures as a heatwave sweeps across Spain on July 16, 2022 in Benidorm.

zovi ft | Getty Images

According to Spanish estimates, at least 350 people have died in Spain during the past week due to high temperatures Carlos III Institute of Health, Health officials in Portugal said around 240 people died in the first fortnight of July due to high temperatures that reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this month.

In the UK, rail service was limited amid concerns that the rail would bend in the heat. The UK Meteorological Office issued a red warning for the summer for the first time, the most extreme alert. Wales recorded its highest ever temperature of 98.8 Fahrenheit on Monday, according to Britain’s National Weather Service.

An aerial view shows boats in the dry bed of Lake Brenets (Lac des Brenets), part of the Doubs River, a natural border between eastern France and western Switzerland, on July 18, 2022 in Les Brenets.

Fabrice Kofrini | AFP | Getty Images

Flights were also delayed and disrupted in and out Luton Airport in London According to the airport, following the identification of a defect on the runway surface due to extreme temperatures. Temperatures in north London reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday and were forecast to rise on Tuesday.

As people across Europe endured the heat, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres A stern warning issued to leaders 40 nations gathered in Berlin to discuss climate change response measures as part of the Petersburg Climate Dialogue.

In a video message to leaders on Monday, Guterres said: “Half of humanity is in danger zones from floods, droughts, severe storms and wildfires. No country is untouched by this. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.” continue.”

-The Associated Press contributed reporting.