Greece closed the ancient Acropolis during the hottest part of the day on Friday to protect tourists, while Croatian villagers cleaned up after a wildfire as a fierce heatwave swept across southern Europe.
In Italy, there were fears about the coming days, with the heat expected to intensify and temperatures forecast to climb to above 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) next week in the center and south of the country.
Italian meteorologists are calling the next phase of the heatwave “Charon” — a reference to the ferryman of the souls of the dead in Greek mythology. That succeeds this week’s “Cerberus” named after the three-headed dog of the underworld. The European Space Agency (ESA), whose satellites monitor land and sea temperatures, has warned that Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing extreme conditions.
Temperatures could break Europe’s current record — 48.8 Celsius recorded in Sicily in August 2021.
The impact of extreme summer heat has been brought into focus by a study this week that said as many as 61,000 people may have died in the sweltering heat across Europe last summer.
Joan Ballester, a professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, said France had learned lessons from a deadly 2003 heatwave that countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal could follow.
“There are measures that are relatively cheap, like for example, coordinating public entities also doing a census of vulnerable populations,” Ballester, a co-author of this week’s study, said.
“But there are much more expensive measures, like for example, the redesign of cities to improve housing conditions,” he told Reuters.
ACROPOLIS NOT NOW
In Athens, authorities have closed the Acropolis Hill, home to the Parthenon temple that is visited by millions of tourists every year, from noon to 5 p.m. (0900 GMT-1400 GMT).
Greece’s meteorological service expected temperatures to peak at 41 Celsius in Athens by midday, but the mercury on the site that overlooks the Greek capital is usually higher due to its altitude and lack of shade.
In Croatia, 56 firefighters with 20 vehicles and three aircraft had struggled to contain a bushfire that spread rapidly on Thursday due to strong southerly winds near the Adriatic town of Sibenik.
The village of Grebastica was devastated by the fire, with cars and homes destroyed.
Greece’s civil protection ministry on Friday warned of the risk of forest fires in five areas and told people to avoid any tasks such as burning weeds, which could cause a fire.
Doctors warned that poorer elderly people with existing health problems were most at risk.
“They suffer from heart issues, chronic bronchitis, stroke, kidney failure,” said Angel Abad, from the office of sustainable development at Madrid’s La Paz hospital.
“Most have a low socio-economic background and we know that in these cases people who don’t have air conditioning are more vulnerable. They face a higher risk and higher mortality upon arriving at an emergency ward,” added Abad, a preventive medicine and public health specialist.
Source : Arab News