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article imageWildfires and power cuts in Europe as heatwave breaks records

By Karen Graham     Jun 29, 2019 in World
Hundreds of firefighters battled on Saturday to contain wildfires in southern France as a stifling heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Europe, killing at least three people in Italy.
Dozens of wildfires have scorched over 600 hectares (1,500 acres) in the Gard region, forcing the closure of a number of highways and destroying several homes and vehicles. Record-breaking temperatures of 45.9 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) were recorded.
Over 700 firefighters and 10 aircraft were deployed to battle the fires in Gard. Several firefighters suffered injuries, but none were reported as serious, according to Reuters.
French authorities say a man has been arrested for deliberately starting a fire in one Gard village. The extreme heat is expected to ease this weekend in southern France, however, temperatures will still be close to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
To the north, Paris is expected to be hit with some high temperatures, with a predicted temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Authorities in Paris have imposed a ban on driving older vehicles in the city to prevent heatwave-related pollution.
In Spain, firefighters battling the wildfire in the northeastern province of Tarragona now have it 90 percent contained. Two other fires in the Toledo region are still burning.
In Italy's financial capital, Milan, hospital emergency rooms saw a 35 percent increase in heat-related visits. Demand for power surged as people in the city cranked up their air-conditioners, resulting in sporadic power outages.
Europe's heatwave is responsible for the deaths of two people in Spain, four in France and three in Italy. In the UK, a 12-year-old girl drowned in a river near Manchester.
The World Meteorological Organization, in a statement, said the heatwave "is consistent with climate scenarios which predict more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events as greenhouse gas concentrations lead to a rise in global temperatures."
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