Rescue services were battling wildfires amid mass evacuations across much of southern Europe yesterday as warnings rang out in London that the fight against climate change needed to be stepped up after Britain’s hottest day.
Undreds fled central Italy when gas tanks exploded in a forest fire near the Tuscan city of Lucca. A similar number fled in Greece as a fire fueled by gale force winds raged in the mountains north of Athens.
A brutal heatwave peaking well over 40C settled over southern Europe last week, part of a global pattern of rising temperatures that scientists and climatologists largely attribute to human activity. It is forecast to bring scorching heat to much of China by the end of August.
It is also expected to expose around 100 million Americans to temperatures in excess of 38C and set records in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
While record heat has eased in parts of the Mediterranean, mercury levels are rising again in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
The national weather service AEMET also predicted higher temperatures in Spain, where emergency services were fighting fires in five regions.
Wildfires raged in several areas of Italy, including one that threatened to leave part of the northeastern city of Trieste without electricity and water, and 14 metropolitan areas including Rome, Milan and Florence were set to be put on the country’s highest heatwave alert.
Forecasters there said temperatures were expected to hit 40C in part of the north and center this week.
That mark was surpassed for the first time in the UK on Tuesday, breaking the country’s previous temperature record of 1.6C.
At least 13 people have died swimming to cool off.
The UK Met Office’s head of science and technology, Stephen Belcher, said the country could experience similar heatwaves every three years if emissions are not reduced.
Climate change is leading to more wildfires and will force France and the European Union to make “structural decisions… in the coming years,” French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday.
Large forest fires continued to rage in southern Europe.
In Italy, emergency workers in Tuscany were battling the Lucca wildfire that forced around 500 people to evacuate as flames reached villages overnight and liquefied gas tanks exploded, the region’s governor Eugenio Giani tweeted.
Another fire near the border with Croatia and Slovenia forced state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri to close its plant in the port city of Monfalcone
employs 3,000 people. In Greece, thick smoke obscured the sky over Mount Penteli, north of Athens, where nearly 500 firefighters, 120 fire engines and 15 water-carrying planes managed to contain the spread.
In France, where firefighters in the southwestern Gironde region have been battling to contain huge wildfires since July 12, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said more money needed to be invested to deal with such threats.
As the fire raged in nearby Murca in Portugal, olive farmer Manuel Lopes, 67, feared for his plantations and for the future of his drought-stricken region. “Our grandchildren … will suffer if this (climate change) doesn’t stop,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/weather/deadly-heat-wave-sparks-call-to-step-up-fight-against-climate-change-41856539.html Deadly heatwave sparks call for stepping up the fight against climate change