France records all-time hottest temperature during scorching heatwave


France has hit its highest ever recorded temperature during a heatwave in Europe that is believed to have claimed lives.

France has recorded its all-time hottest temperature of 44.3 degrees Celsius on Friday as the country and much of Europe basked in an early summer heatwave, state weather forecaster Meteo-France said.

The temperature was recorded in the southeastern town of Carpentras and beat the previous record for France of 44.1 degrees Celsius recorded in Saint-Christol-les-Ales and Conqueyrac during the notorious August 2003 heatwave.

Heat-related deaths

The heatwave has been blamed for several deaths, including a 17-year-old farm worker in Spain.

The Spanish teenager felt dizzy while helping harvest wheat in the southern Andalusia region.

After a dip in a swimming pool to cool off, he collapsed with convulsions and was rushed to hospital in the town of Cordoba where he later died, the regional government said.

Elsewhere in Spain, a 93-year-old man collapsed and died on the street in the northern city of Valladolid, police said, who gave heatstroke as the cause of death.

Heat-related deaths have also been reported in Italy, France and Germany, mainly among the elderly.

Fire hydrants uncapped

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn warned those tempted to plunge into cold water, both young and old, to do so only in designated public bathing areas, adding that four people had drowned since the beginning of the week. 

On Thursday, Buzyn complained that despite a barrage of public health warnings on radio, TV and on public transport, some parents were still leaving their children in hot cars and joggers seen exercising in the midday heat.

Also Thursday, a six-year-old Syrian child was seriously injured after being catapulted into the air by water gushing from an open fire hydrant and then crashing to the ground.

People cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, France.
People cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, France.

The incident occurred in the multi-ethnic Saint-Denis neighbourhood north of Paris, where "uncapping" hydrants has long been used as a way to cool off.

In the Italian city of Milan, a 72-year-old homeless man was found dead at the main train station on Thursday after falling ill due to the heatwave.

And a day earlier, at least four people died in Germany in bathing accidents.

Flaming manure

In Spain, firefighters were continuing to battle a large forest fire in the northeastern Catalonia region.

Catalonia's forest service said the fire likely began when an "improperly managed" pile of manure at a chicken farm spontaneously combusted in the extreme heat.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by troops and aerial water bombers were trying to bring it under control.

They were hampered by roasting 44-degree temperatures and very low humidity according to David Borrell, head of the Catalan fire department.

Spain's north-east was on red heatwave alert denoting "extreme risk".

epa07677412 Fire and smoke rise near a house during a forest fire in La Torre de l'Espanyol in Tarragona, Spain, 27 June 2019. Fire emergency teams work to control the flames that have already burnt 4,00 hectares of land.  EPA/JAUME SELLART
Fire and smoke rise near a house during a forest fire in La Torre de l'Espanyol in Tarragona, Spain, 27 June 2019.

The stifling temperatures have caused air quality to nosedive in some European cities, prompting local authorities to take anti-pollution measures.

In Paris, Lyon and Marseille, authorities have banned the most-polluting cars from the roads in recent days.

Residents of the city of Grenoble were unable to use two municipal swimming pools despite the record temperatures, due to a row sparked by use of the full-body Islamic burkini swimsuit. 

Lifeguards had asked for the shutdown after Muslim women clad in burkinis had gone to swim in defiance of a municipal ban on the outfits.

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