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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020
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Spain hit by more wildfires as European heatwave continues

The heat has already claimed several lives, including a 17-year-old harvest worker in Spain and a 72-year-old homeless man in Italy.

Firefighters in the Tarragona are of Spain earlier this week.
Firefighters in the Tarragona are of Spain earlier this week.
Image: AP/PA Images

SPAIN HAS BEEN hit by more wildfires as temperatures remain sky-high in the Europe-wide heatwave.

A fire that started yesterday evening in the central town of Almorox burned at least 1,600 hectares spilling over into the Madrid region and forcing the evacuation of a village, emergency services said.

Another blaze near the city of Toledo some 60 kilometres away also forced the evacuation of 22 residents, as water-dropping aircraft assisted firefighters on the ground amid strong winds.

Meanwhile, a major blaze in the northeastern region of Catalonia was contained and “was in the process of being stabilised,” the regional government said in a statement.

But it warned that a small part of the blaze remained of concern.

“Today the weather conditions continue to be extreme and the next hours will be critical and decisive, not just for this fire, but also for the rest of the territory,” it said.

The fires come as Europe is hit by a major heatwave, with temperatures in some parts of France reaching record highs.

The Meteo-France weather service lifted its red warning but forecast a “very hot day” across a large central band of the country, with the mercury expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius in some parts.

The heat has already claimed several lives, including a 17-year-old harvest worker in Spain and a 72-year-old homeless man in Italy.

Heat-related deaths have also been reported in Germany and France, mainly among the elderly.

France remains haunted by the memory of the devastating heatwave of August 2003 which exposed the shortcomings of emergency services at the height of the summer holidays and during which nearly 15,000 people were estimated to have died.

“I want to appeal to the sense of responsibility of citizens – there are avoidable deaths in every heatwave,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn also expressed regret that despite a barrage of public health warnings, some parents were still leaving their children in hot cars and joggers were out exercising in the midday heat.

- © AFP 2019 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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