Europe bakes again in near-record temperatures

PARIS: Europe baked in near-record temperatures on Monday, but hopes were for some respite after weeks of non-stop sunshine as people come to terms with what may prove to be the new normal in climate change Europe.
Here is a roundup of recent developments:
Temperatures are expected to peak in southern France on Tuesday. On Saturday, they hit their highest levels since a deadly 2003 heatwave killed thousands of mainly elderly people.
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said people had to take proper care to cope with the heat and warned that everyone had to adapt. “You need to drink a lot, but also to eat and take salt,” Buzyn said.
Several cities imposed traffic restrictions and cut speed limits to try to reduce ozone pollution aggravated by the heat, with Paris also offering free parking and cheaper daily metro and bus passes to discourage driving.
The heatwave could be among the “top three” on record for France, the national weather service said.
In Spain, the death toll rose to five after two homeless men succumbed to heat stroke in northeastern Taragona, officials said.
Firefighters helped by calmer winds were meanwhile gaining control of a wildfire in the southwestern province of Huelva, just across the border from the Algarve in southern Portugal where a major blaze was still burning in Monchique.
In Portugal, after hitting 45 C, short of the national record of just above 47 C, temperatures have eased slightly but not by enough to make the job of some 1,100 firefighters in Monchique any easier.
Monchique, in southern Portugal, was covered by thick clouds of smoke early on Monday after the authorities evacuated several houses overnight, with 24 people injured, one seriously.
“Our priority is to protect people,” Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told reporters.
Germany expects a fresh spike mid-week to around 39 C before temperatures ease, with official figures showing the average for April-July running 3.6 degrees higher than the 1961-1990 reference period.
Farmers continued to plead for help, with the president of Germany’s farmers’ association, Joachim Rukwied, saying a billion euros in government aid may be necessary as crop failure rates hit 70 per cent in some areas.
More than a million children returned to school on Monday in three German states — Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Hesse — but some were allowed to go home earlier than planned due to the heatwave.
Britain continued to be hot in the south with a maximum of 32 C but it was cooler and cloudier in the north. Reports said the persistent lack of rain has hit the country’s more remote islands.
Worst affected is the tiny island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel — with a population in the dozens — which is now reliant on plastic bottles of water from the mainland after local supplies ran dry, the Daily Express said. — AFP