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11 Aug 2003 11:53
Europeans sweating through an abnormally hot August faced little immediate prospect of relief on Monday after a weekend of record-setting temperatures.
More than 40 deaths—including that of a three-year-old French girl who died in a parked car on Sunday—have been blamed on temperatures that have hovered in the mid-30s degrees Celsius for days.
Britain recorded its hottest day to date on Sunday—38,1C—at Gravesend in southern England. Temperatures in London also crept above 37,7C.
On Saturday, the Bavarian city of Roth recorded a high of 40,4C.
Germany’s previous record of 40,2C was also in Bavaria, set in 1983.
Forecasters said Germany would remain hot at least until midweek.
Spain’s National Meteorological Institute predicted that temperatures of up to 42C would continue for at least a week.
Patrick Pelloux, the head of France’s emergency physicians’ association, contended in a television interview on Sunday that at least 50 people had died of heat-related illnesses in the Paris region alone in the previous four days.
“They dare to talk about ... natural deaths. I absolutely do not agree with saying that,” Pelloux said.
In Serbia-Montenegro, formerly known as Yugoslavia, three people are believed to have died from the heat wave in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, health authorities said.
Health officials in Podgorica said victims of sunstroke were risking further damage to their health by calling ambulances, which are not air-conditioned.
Dozens of oil paintings, wooden sculptures and other artefacts have been moved from display to an underground depot at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade due to a lack of ventilation equipment.
Pope John Paul II asked for prayers on Sunday for relief from fires that have scorched Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, France and other arid areas.
“I invite all to join in my prayers for the victims of this calamity, and I exhort all to raise to the Lord fervent entreaties so that He may grant the relief of rain to the thirsty Earth,” John Paul told pilgrims and tourists.
In northeastern Italy, firefighters worked for a third day to put out a fire near Udine.
Three fires raged in Portugal. The government asked Spain for two firefighting planes to help tackle a wildfire near Portimao in the southern region of Algarve. About 145 firefighters, 45 vehicles, two helicopters and two planes were battling the flames.
In the French Alps, police warned hikers about rock avalanches along a popular route on Mont Blanc. Glacial ice is melting, loosening rocks from the mountainside. On Saturday, helicopters evacuated 44 climbers in danger, mountain police said.—Sapa-AP
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