Archive for Sunday, August 10, 2003

Europe heat wave takes deadly toll

Hot weather kills at least 40; out-of-control wildfires ravage countryside

August 10, 2003

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— With a heat wave scorching Europe, emergency aircraft swooped over wildfires to disgorge water onto smoldering countryside Saturday as authorities made house calls for those suffering at home and tourists hunted for drinks and shade.

Around Europe, about 40 deaths have been blamed on the sizzling temperatures, which have been stuck over 100 degrees for days.

Wildfires fanned by hot winds have eaten up territory in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Croatia and the Netherlands.

In Italy, authorities battled 24 fires Saturday, with the worst in the regions of Tuscany, Piedmont, Liguria, Lazio and Campania.

Civil Defense chief Guido Bertolaso has blamed arsonists. "The fact that it's very hot encourages these delinquent pyromaniacs," he said.

The largest Italian blaze burned about 40 miles north of Naples, causing agricultural damage and killing cows stuck in the meadows, the ANSA news agency said.

In Croatia, 22 firefighters flew by helicopter to combat fires on the Velebit mountain range -- an area where flames have been hard to tackle due to tough terrain and leftover land mines from war in the early 1990s. The situation was under control, although sporadic fires continued on the Adriatic islands of Korcula and Cres, the HINA news agency said.

In Spain, firefighters also seemed to be getting the upper hand while temperatures took a temporary dip Saturday.

Authorities reported they had controlled blazes on the Canary Island of Hierro and on the Mediterranean Balearic Island of Majorca, where some 200 people earlier were evacuated from a monastery, a hotel and several houses close to the town of Randa.

Two young boys cool down in a fountain in Bilbao, Spain. Many areas
of Spain registered temperatures of 40 degrees centigrade (104
Fahrenheit) or higher as a heat wave continues in Europe. The
weather has been blamed for at least 40 deaths throughout the
continent, and emergency officials also are battling wildfires,
spread by hot winds, in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal,
Croatia and the Netherlands.

Two young boys cool down in a fountain in Bilbao, Spain. Many areas of Spain registered temperatures of 40 degrees centigrade (104 Fahrenheit) or higher as a heat wave continues in Europe. The weather has been blamed for at least 40 deaths throughout the continent, and emergency officials also are battling wildfires, spread by hot winds, in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Croatia and the Netherlands.

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