The Iberian Peninsula and southwestern France were plagued by devastating fires and sweltering temperatures on Friday. Further north, the UK is on red alert with fears that temperatures may never have peaked.
This heat wave is the second in a month. The proliferation of such events is a direct consequence of global warming, scientists say, as greenhouse gas emissions increase in intensity, duration and frequency.
In Portugal, which suffered a week of extreme temperatures and a series of fires, the emergency services identified a dozen active fires on Friday evening, prompting the mobilization of more than 900 firefighters.
According to Civil Defense, the fires killed two people, including the pilot, of a Firepass type water bomber – a medium-sized aircraft – which crashed early in the morning while fighting a forest fire near from Vila Nova de Foz Goa in the north. Garda region.
At the same time, in the north of Portugal, a more alarming fire is raging upstream of the great Douro river which crosses it in the mountainous commune of Piao in the Porto region.
Above 45 degrees
“Every year in this season there are fires here, but usually it’s not that bad,” Maria, a 71-year-old retired teacher living in the village of Eiriz, told AFP. .
As of July 15, Portugal had burned more than 30,000 hectares since the start of the year, the highest number since 2017, when violent forest fires killed around 100 people. Temperatures in the north reached 47 degrees before dropping slightly on Friday, a record for July in this country.
“A Ball of Fire”
In the south-west of France, this extreme heat has ravaged since Tuesday two fires of 7,700 hectares, one in the south of Bordeaux, where a “criminal thesis” is now “privileged”, and the other in a forest. tilted against the more tourists. Hill of Pilate.
“Here, there were tunnels of fire, you have to imagine a fireball,” commander Laurent Dellac told AFP, speaking from La Teste-de-Buch. The disasters, which mobilize a thousand firefighters, have led to the evacuation of 11,000 people since Tuesday.
“I’ve never seen this, it looks post-apocalyptic, in fact, it’s falling everywhere, on cars, it’s disturbing,” said Karin, a resident of Kazaks, a village near Pilate’s Hill. .
A passing train on Thursday afternoon caused sparks and another fire spread (unnecessarily) southeast near Avignon, covering 1,205 hectares.
More than 40 degrees in Spain
On the Spanish side, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a tweet that he was “very cautious about the evolution of the active fires that led to the evacuation of many municipalities”, raising “a serious risk in the face of temperatures extremely high”.
The Portuguese border region of Extremadura is the most affected by the fires, where thousands of hectares have burned in recent days. It has experienced “unfavorable development” and threatened the Monfrag National Park, a natural area protected for its biodiversity.
Another forest fire worries the authorities in Mijas, in Andalusia (south), a few tens of kilometers from Malaga, where 2,300 people from surrounding towns have been evacuated, according to the emergency services.
As of 4:20 p.m., it was 43.9 degrees in the southwestern province of Badajoz, with mercury above 40 degrees in most areas. Across the Mediterranean, one person died in a wildfire in a remote forest in northern Morocco, authorities said.
UK red alert
This heat wave will extend further north throughout the weekend. In the UK, which issued its first “extreme heat” red alert on Monday and Tuesday, people are bracing for record temperatures.
“We hoped never to get to this point, but for the first time we predicted the UK would exceed 40 degrees Celsius,” said climate scientist Dr Nikos Christidis. The full temperature record in this country (38.7 degrees) starts from 2019.
The NHS Public Health Service has warned of a “jump” in heat-related hospitalizations. Ireland and Belgium are also expected to start the week with inland temperatures reaching 32 and 38 degrees respectively.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has also warned of poor air quality, which has been “unfortunately avoided by this heat wave”, says chief scientist Lorenzo Labrador, citing “higher levels of pollutants atmosphere and ozone”.
This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats/afp