Southern Europe Battles Wildfires in Grip of Heatwave

Wildfires in southern Europe

Firefighters in southern European countries including Spain, France and Italy have been battling against huge wildfires that have claimed hundreds of lives, with the continent in the grip of a record-breaking heatwave.

The heatwave has seen temperatures soar past 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in multiple countries, with authorities issuing severe weather warnings. Scientists say the extreme weather is consistent with the ongoing effects of climate change.

In Spain, where temperatures have reached a high of 45.7 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit), helicopters were deployed as fires broke out in hard to navigate mountainous areas. There were similar scenes to be found in neighboring Portugal, and deaths attributed to the heat in the two countries are estimated to number more than 1,000.

In France, wildfires have now spread across 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the southwestern region of Gironde, with authorities coordinating a response involving more than 1,200 firefighters. Over 14,000 people have been evacuated from the area as a precautionary measure.

Italy has suffered to a lesser extent so far, but has still seen an increase in the number of smaller fires breaking out. With temperature set to remain above 40 degrees Celsius over the coming days, authorities are braced for worse.

Greece has also reported an increased occurrence of wildfires, but have been able able to easily contain all blazes to date.