Soaring temperatures have gripped parts of Europe, which has barely recovered from its last heatwave.
Droughts and forest fires have hit Spain and Portugal and the scorching heat has spread to France and the UK.
Temperatures are set to peak on Thursday in France and Spain and authorities have cancelled traditional fireworks displays on France’s national day to reduce the risk of fires.
Heatwaves have become more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting because of climate change. The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began.
The heat sweeping across Spain was unusual in that it was affecting almost the whole of the country.
High temperatures were often registered in the summer months, particularly in southern and central areas of the country.
That was certainly the case during this heatwave, with Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha and Extremadura all seeing temperatures in the low 40s Celsius so far this week. However, northern Spain, which usually avoided extreme temperatures, was also being hit, with the north-western region of Galicia on red alert – the highest category – as it braces itself for temperatures of up to 42C in the Miño valley.
Another 13 regions were on orange or yellow alert.
Temperatures were expected to keep rising in many areas over the next two days. The north-eastern city of Zaragoza was forecast to see temperatures of up to 42C, while Badajoz, in the south-west, could register up to 47C on Thursday.
Air quality was poor in many areas across the north because of the heat. That added to existing health concerns caused by the hot weather, which means that the streets of towns and villages tend to be much quieter in the afternoon.
An unprecedented 80 per cent of mainland Portugal was at “exceptional” risk of fires, according to national meteorological institute, IPMA.
The government has put the whole of the mainland under a “state of contingency” until Friday – one notch above “state of alert” and the second-highest of three levels. -BBC