Spain’s prime minister says more than 500 people have died in a 10-day heatwave as Europe charges a record amount of time extreme temperature.
Climate change opponents say the scorching weather should be a wake-up call for the continent.
“This has nothing to do with ideology, but with reality, with the climate emergency the planet is going through,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. speak.
Speaking against the backdrop of charred trees and burned ground in the hard-hit northeast Zaragoza region, he urged people to exercise “extreme caution”.
Sanchez cites figures released by the Carlos III Health Institute that estimate the number of heat-related deaths based on excess deaths compared with the average in previous years.
The institute has stressed these numbers are a statistical estimate and not an official record.
Meanwhile, Greek firefighters gained the upper hand in the battle against wildfires raging for a second day in a mountainside suburb north of Athens that sent hundreds of people fleeing, an official said. said.
Fire department spokesman Yiannis Artopios told reporters: “For the most part, the fire is in decline.
Greece has not been affected by the scorching heat wave in Western Europe, but flames ignited by high winds are threatening the suburbs of Penteli, Pallini, Anthousa and Gerakas, home to tens of thousands of people.
“The fire burned our backs, we were gone in a short time. If we had stayed for another 30 seconds it would have burned us down,” a Pallini resident who lost his car and ran into the fire told ERT broadcaster.
“Civil protection was late in alerting us,” he said.
In France, firefighters brought double blazes near the southwestern city of Bordeaux under control.
Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the previous days left millions miserable and broke heat records.
Cooler air swept through on Wednesday, bringing relief to people from Portugal to Britain, but thousands of firefighters continued to tackle fires that broke out in many countries after months of conditions. like drought.
“Our review is generally positive. The situation improved overnight,” French fire agency spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP from southwestern Gironde, where two major fires have engulfed 20,600 hectares (50,900 acres) of dry forest since last week. before.
The heatwave saw a new all-time record in the UK, where the national weather service hit 40.3C (105F) in eastern England, surpassing the previous high set in 2019.
The grassland fire broke out on Tuesday on the edge of London, with a forced evacuation of 14 people as farm buildings, houses and garages were consumed by the blaze.
London Fire Brigade said 16 firefighters were injured around the capital and two were taken to hospital.
“Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the second world war,” the city’s Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News on Wednesday, urging the public to remain vigilant despite the heat. level is currently decreasing.
Khan also accused the Conservative leadership candidates vying to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ignoring the “elephant in the room” that is climate change.
Hundreds of firefighters were also deployed in western Slovenia on Wednesday to deal with a blaze that forced several villages to evacuate, emergency services said.
The fire broke out on Tuesday in the wooded Karst region, where vegetation was withered by intense heat, and flared up violently Wednesday afternoon due to winds.
Residents were forced to leave their homes in some areas and emergency sirens sounded.
Climate protesters triggered a long backtrack on Britain’s busiest motorway surrounding London on Wednesday as they sought to emphasize the need for greater action to reduce greenhouse gases. global warming.
Members of the Just Stop Oil group climbed the rig across the M25 motorway, prompting the police to intervene.
“This is the moment when climate inactivity is truly revealed in all its murderous glory for all to see: as an elite-driven death project that will extinguish all live if we let it happen,” the activist group said in a statement.