It has arrived early this year, but it is still deadly. Europe’s heatwave has already claimed six lives in Italy. The country has borne the brunt of the soaring temperatures and humidity that are making life distinctly unpleasant across parts of the continent. All the victims were over 70 and succumbed in northern Italy, the worst hit region. Water shortages are worrying authorities in Belgium, France, southwest Germany, the Iberian peninsula and in southeast England. Many areas have seen their lowest rainfall in decades, threatening crops. Farmers in northern Italy say their water reserves will run out in two weeks if it stays this dry. The heat has brought back bad memories in France, where thousands of old people died in the searing temperatures two summers ago and in Portugal, where forest fires devastated much of the countryside in 2003. Some blazes have already broken out there and authorities say there is a high risk of more fires in several regions over the next few days. Both Portugal and Spain have asked for the support of the EU in confronting the effects of drought and have called for the establishment of an observation body to study the problem.