Spain's PM says 'more than 500 died' from heatwave

French firefighters brought twin blazes near Bordeaux under control



File. Firefighters work at the site of a wildfire outside Tabara, Zamora, on the second heatwave of the year, in Spain, July 18, 2022.  Photo: Reuters
File. Firefighters work at the site of a wildfire outside Tabara, Zamora, on the second heatwave of the year, in Spain, July 18, 2022. Photo: Reuters

By Agencies

Published: Wed 20 Jul 2022, 4:57 PM

The 10-day heatwave that hit Spain left "more than 500 people" dead, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday.

"During this heat wave, more than 500 people died because of such high temperatures, according to the statistics," Sanchez said, referring to a public health institute estimate based on excess mortality rates.

Europe counts cost of heatwave

Europe counted the cost of a record heatwave on Wednesday as French firefighters brought twin blazes near Bordeaux under control and climate change protesters pointed to the sizzling weather as a wake up call for the continent.

Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) over previous days have spelled misery for millions and shattered heat records, focusing attention on the impact of global warming.

Cooler air swept in Wednesday, bringing relief to people from Portugal to Britain, but thousands of firefighters continued to tackle mass fires that have broken out in multiple countries in recent days after months of drought-like conditions.

“Our assessment is generally positive. The situation improved overnight,” French fire service spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP from the southwestern Gironde region where two huge blazes have engulfed 20,600 hectares (50,900 acres) of tinder-dry forest since last week.

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The infernos had barely expanded overnight, with lower temperatures and the construction of a 300-metre wide fire break helping stem the spread of the flames.

President Emmanuel Macron was set to visit later on Wednesday to speak to emergency services members and some of the 37,000 people who have been evacuated in the popular Atlantic Ocean region that is teaming with tourists in the summer months.

Two firefighters were severely injured overnight, government spokesman Olivier Veran told reporters.

Separate blazes in the Monts d’Arree area of northwestern Brittany continued to rage on Wednesday, with aircraft dropping water from above.


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