Spain registers 500 deaths from heat wave, one of the worst in the country’s history | World

Spain on Wednesday reported more than 500 deaths linked to extreme temperatures, as countries such as France and the United Kingdom assessed the damage left by an overwhelming heat wave in Western Europe accompanied by large fires, several still active.

The phenomenon, which lasted from the 9th to the 18th of July, was “the one that presented biggest temperature anomaly” recorded in the Spain since the beginning of the historical series in 1975according to Beatriz Hervella, spokesperson for AEMET.

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A man hugs his son in front of the family’s home in northeastern Spain, which was burned by one of hundreds of active fires in Spain, July 19, 2022. — Photo: AP

The President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, warned the population that “climate change kills”.

“During this heat wave, according to records, more than 500 people died as a result of the high temperatures,” said Sánchez, referring to an estimate of mortality carried out by a public health institute.

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In Portugal, there have already been more than a thousand deaths due to the heat wave, according to the local government.

This Wednesday, the fire that most worried him was in Calatayud (Aragon), where the flames affected a perimeter of 14 thousand hectares, caused the evacuation of 1,700 people and even interrupted the circulation of high-speed trains between Madrid and Barcelona.

The number of deaths that Sánchez cited is a reference to estimates made by the public institute Carlos III, which makes a statistical calculation of the increase in mortality from precise causes, such as the rise in temperature, comparing these numbers with historical statistical series.

An employee of the urban cleaning service in Madrid, Spain, washes city streets to refresh asphalt, on July 19, 2022. — Photo: AP

In fact, the recent heat wave that affected the Spain was the most extreme recorded in the countryaccording to provisional data from the State Meteorological Agency and would be the third longest, followed by one in 2015 (26 days) and another in 2003 (16).

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This was the second heat wave faced by Europe in just a month. The increase in these phenomena is, according to scientists, a direct consequence of the climate crisis, as greenhouse gas emissions increase in intensity, duration and frequency.

This last wave hit mainly Spain, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom, where historic temperatures were reached.

A man watches smoke over grape and olive oil plantations in northeastern Spain on July 19, 2022. — Photo: AP

In France, since July 12, fires have burned more than 20,000 hectares of vegetation in the Gironde department, in the southwest of the country.

This Wednesday, the fire seemed to progress with less intensity. With only 300 hectares damaged in the last few hours, “the balance is more positive”, although the flames have not been extinguished, explained firefighter spokesman Arnaud Mendousse.

Fires destroyed southern France’s forests in the worst heat wave the country has ever faced. — Photo: SDIS 33 via AP

President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda included a visit this Wednesday to La Teste-de-Buch, a tourist town in the region, 40 km south of Bordeaux, and a meeting with “firefighters, civil defense staff, law enforcement, officials and the entire set of personnel mobilized”, according to Eliseu.

During the night, there was no need to evacuate more people. Soon after the fires started, more than 36,000 people were forced to leave their homes preventively.

The fire affected other parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, where on Tuesday a fire was reported in a city east of London. Of undetermined origin, the flames spread over about 40 hectares, where they burned houses, agricultural productions and garages, 30 km from the center of the British capital.

Forest fire breaks out near Athens, threatening homes

Forest fire breaks out near Athens, threatening homes

In Greece, after a difficult night, aerial means began to control the flames that spread at the foot of Mount Pentelicus, north of Athens.

About 500 firefighters, 120 vehicles and 19 air assets were used to extinguish the fire that affects several suburbs where about 90,000 people live.

The heat wave broke many records in Europe on Tuesday (19). In the UK, thermometers reached unprecedented levels: 40.2°C at Heathrow Airport in west London and 40.3°C in Coningsby, a village in northwest England, according to the Met Office weather agency.

The record was also surpassed in Scotland, with 34.8°C, while France recorded new maximum temperatures in more than sixty places, with more than 40 degrees in some cities.

About Abhishek Pratap

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