Europe heatwave: Which countries have been affected and how many people have died?

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EUROPE’S heatwave is roasting continental countries with potentially dangerous temperatures. 

The unseasonably early weather conditions has seen temperatures reaching nearly 40C. 

Women drink water in front of the Duomo in central Milan
Women drink water in front of the Duomo in central Milan
AFP or licensors

Which countries have been affected?

The heatwave has engulfed Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

Meteorologists wrote on AccuWeather: “A potentially dangerous heat wave will grip a large swathe of western and northern Europe this week.” 

But parts of eastern and southern France will see the highest temperatures this week, peaking today (Thursday), Meteo France said. 

The current record temperature for June stands at 41.5C, registered near Narbonne in southern France in June, 2003.

Relatively high humidity levels in the coming day could mean it will feel more like 4C.

Meteo France said: “We could see temperatures in localised areas hit record highs.

“This heatwave could be remarkable for how early it has come as well as its intensity.”

Authorities in Paris are setting up “cool rooms” in municipal buildings, opening pools for late-night swimming and installing extra drinking fountains.

Faithful brave the heat to attend Pope Francis' weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
Faithful brave the heat to attend Pope Francis’ weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
EPA

How many people have died in the heatwave so far? 

It is unclear at this stage but three have died in southern France. 

But the freak weather is reviving memories in France of August 2003, when searing temperatures overwhelmed hospitals and caused the deaths of some 15,000 people, mostly elderly.


What is causing the heatwave?

A bubble of Saharan air and high pressure over central and eastern Europe has brought scorching heat across the continent.

This has caused an unseasonably early heatwave, which has also been caused by a storm stalling over the Atlantic Ocean.

Heatwaves are not uncommon during summer.

But according to weather experts they are being amplified by a rise in global temperatures.

Hannah Cloke, a professor at Britain’s University of Reading, said: “An increase in heatwaves is one of the clearest impacts of climate change.

“Killer heat events of this kind will become even more widespread by the middle of the century in Europe, but this outlook could get worse unless action is taken to curb future greenhouse gas emissions.”

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