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The Iberian Peninsula and southwestern France were in the grip of devastating fires and suffocating temperatures on Friday. Further north, the United Kingdom is on red alert, with temperatures feared to have never reached a peak.

This heat wave is the second in a month. The proliferation of these events is a direct result of global warming, according to scientists, as greenhouse gas emissions increase in intensity, duration and frequency.

In Portugal, which has suffered a week of extreme temperatures and a series of fires, emergency services identified a dozen active fires on Friday evening, prompting the mobilization of more than 900 firefighters.

According to civil defense, the fires killed two people, including the pilot, of a Firepass-type water bomber – a medium-sized aircraft – that crashed early in the morning while fighting a forest fire near Vila Nova de Foz Goa in the north. Garda area.

At the same time, in northern Portugal, a more alarming fire is raging upstream from the large river Douro that crosses it in the mountainous municipality of Piao in the Porto region.

Above 45 degrees

“Every year at this season, there are fires here, but usually it’s not that strong,” a 71-year-old retired teacher living in the village of Eiriz testified to AFP Maria.

As of July 15, Portugal had burned more than 30,000 hectares since the start of the year, the highest number since 2017, when violent forest fires killed around 100 people. Temperatures in the north reached 47 degrees before easing slightly on Friday, a record high for July in this country.

“A Ball of Fire”

In the south-west of France, this extreme heat has ravaged two 7,700-hectare fires since Tuesday, one in the south of Bordeaux, where a “criminal thesis” is now “privileged”, and the other in a forest tilted against the most tourists. Pilate’s Hill.

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“Here, there were tunnels of fire, you have to imagine a fireball,” commander Laurent Dellac, speaking from La Teste-de-Buch, told AFP. The disasters, which mobilize a thousand firefighters, have led to the evacuation of 11,000 people since Tuesday.

“I’ve never seen this, it looks post-apocalyptic, actually, it’s falling everywhere, on cars, it’s worrying,” said Karin, a resident of Kazaks, a village near Pilate’s Hill.

A passing train on Thursday afternoon caused sparks and another fire spread (unnecessarily) to the southeast near Avignon, covering 1,205 hectares.

Over 40 degrees in Spain

On Spain’s side, Prime Minister Pedro S├ínchez said in a tweet that he was “very careful about the evolution of active fires that have led to the evacuation of many municipalities”, prompting “a serious risk in the face of extremely high temperatures”.

Portugal’s border region of Extremadura is the worst affected by the fires, where thousands of hectares have burned in recent days. It experienced an “unfavorable development” and threatened the Monfrag National Park, a natural area protected for its biodiversity.

Another forest fire worried authorities in Mijas, in Andalusia (south), a few dozen kilometers from Malaga, where 2,300 people from surrounding communities were evacuated, according to emergency services.

At 4:20 p.m., it was 43.9 degrees in the southwestern province of Badajoz, with mercury above 40 degrees in most areas. Across the Mediterranean, one person died in a wildfire in a remote forest in northern Morocco, authorities said.

UK red alert

This heat wave will extend further north through the weekend. In the United Kingdom, which issued its first “extreme heat” red alert on Monday and Tuesday, people are bracing for record temperatures.

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“We hoped we would never get to this point, but for the first time we have predicted that the UK will exceed 40 degrees Celsius,” said climate scientist Dr Nikos Christidis. The complete temperature record in this country (38.7 degrees) starts from 2019.

The NHS Public Health Service has warned of a “jump” in heat-related hospitalizations. Ireland and Belgium are also expected to start the week with temperatures inland reaching 32 and 38 degrees respectively.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has also warned of poor air quality, which has been “unfortunately avoided from this heat wave”, says science officer Lorenzo Labrador, citing “higher pollutant atmospheric and ozone levels”.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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