Europe sizzles as heatwave continues

Europe sizzles as heatwave continues
By Mark Armstrong
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Firefighters in Portugal and Spain were on high alert over the weekend as the heatwave continued across Europe


Europe continues to swelter after a weekend that saw near-record high temperatures of 46C  in Portugal, not far off the three-decade European record of 48C held by Athens.

In Madrid and other cities, tourists have been doing whatever they can to cool.

"It has been extremely hot here," said this tourist from the UK. "Being English we've had to plan our day around the heat as well. Also drinking plenty of fluids but we have had a heatwave in England so yeah, this is extreme."

Temperatures have been on a par with the hottest location on Earth - Death Valley in California, driven higher by a hot air mass moving north from Africa.

And as well as sometimes fatal discomfort for people the heat is causing some practical problems for industry.

France was forced to close four nuclear reactors to keep the rivers Rhone and Rhine cool.

Overheated water can result in the death of fish on a mass scale, as has happened in Hamburg's Alster river.

Steam from evaporating water also caused problems for road workers in Germany - tarring the already baking asphalt.

As temperatures soared to near record highs in southern Portugal, around 800 firefighters battled a forest fire in the Algarve.

The hilly Monchique area was evacuated as flames consumed more than 1,000 hectares.

Wildfires are also a threat in neighbouring Spain. On Sunday, firefighters eventually brought a blaze in San Vicente de Alcantara under control. The authorities have issued a warning covering the entire southern region of Extremadura. So far the stifling heat has played a part in the deaths of two men.

The temperatures are due to come down this week, dropping to below forty by Tuesday. For the record, that's still very warm.

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