Global wildfires, health warnings amidst extreme heat
As scorching temperatures spread across the world on Wednesday, devastating wildfires emerged, and health warnings were issued in various parts of Asia, Europe, and North America.
Firefighters relentlessly battled blazes in Greece and the Canary Islands, while Spain raised heat alerts, and some children in Italy’s Sardinia were advised to avoid engaging in sports activities.
Authorities from California to China alerted citizens to the health risks posed by the blistering heat, urging them to stay hydrated and seek shelter from the sun’s rays.
“It’s unbearable to be outside,” expressed Lidia Rodriguez, 27, from Madrid.
Temperature records shattered globally, with new heat milestones set in China, the United States, and France.
Beijing broke a 23-year-old record with 27 consecutive days of temperatures surpassing 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), according to forecasters.
In Phoenix, the previous record, which had been in place for 49 years, was broken with the 19th consecutive day of temperatures reaching 43.3 degrees Celsius or higher, according to weather officials.
Southern France experienced a record-breaking temperature of 29.5 degrees Celsius in the Alpine ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, while Verdun in the foothills of the Pyrenees recorded 40.6 degrees Celsius for the first time.
In a stark warning about the consequences of global warming, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Agency (WMO) declared that the trend of extreme heat shows no signs of abating.
John Nairn, a senior extreme heat adviser at the WMO, stated during a press conference in Geneva, “These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world needs to prepare for more intense heatwaves.”
- Impending Heatwave –
Columns of smoke engulfed the forest of Dervenohoria, northwest of the Greek capital, Athens, where firefighters struggled to contain one of the many fires blazing in and around the city.
Yannis Artopios, a fire spokesman, described it as “a challenging day,” with another heatwave expected on Thursday, with temperatures predicted to reach 44 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, a forest fire near the seaside resort of Loutraki, where the mayor reported the evacuation of 1,200 children from holiday camps on Monday, was still raging.
In the Canary Islands, approximately 400 firefighters fought against a blaze that had ravaged 3,500 hectares of forest and forced 4,000 residents to evacuate. Authorities advised residents to wear face masks outdoors due to poor air quality.
Italy and Spain also endured relentless heat, with three regions in Spain placed under red alerts for extreme weather.
Forecasters predicted that the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily could potentially surpass the continent-wide record of 48.8 degrees Celsius recorded in Sicily in August 2021.
At Lanusei, near the eastern coast of Sardinia, a children’s summer camp limited beach visits to the early morning and prohibited sports activities, according to teacher Morgana Cucca.
Pharmacist Teresa Angioni in the Sardinian capital of Cagliari reported an increase in heat-related symptoms among patients, who mainly purchased magnesium and potassium supplements and requested blood pressure measurements.
Seeking relief from the heat, many Italians flocked to the seaside, including those outside Rome, where temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius at midday.
“Going to the beach is definitely better; at least you can get a bit of sea breeze. It’s impossible to stay in the city; it’s too hot,” said Virginia Ces