The temperature in France surpassed 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time on record yesterday as Europe sweltered in an early summer heatwave that has caused several deaths.
With France, Spain, Italy and parts of central Europe particularly badly hit by the high temperatures, officials pleaded with people to take common sense precautions.
France’s new record temperature of 45.1 degrees Celsius was registered in Villevieille, a village in the southern department of Gard near Montpellier, the same area where a previous high of 44.1 degrees Celsius was set in August 2003, Meteo-France told AFP. Records began at the turn of the 20th century.
The state forecaster said it was likely the record could be beaten again yesterday as it was still relatively early in the day.
The new record makes France just the seventh European country to have recorded a plus 45 degrees Celsius temperature, along with Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia, Meteo France said.
At least two deaths linked to the heatwave were reported in Spain. Heat-related deaths have also been reported in Italy, France and Germany, mainly among the elderly.
France remains haunted by the memory of the devastating heatwave of August 2003 which exposed the shortcomings of emergency services at the height of the summer holidays. That year, nearly 15,000 people are estimated to have died because of the heat, many of them elderly people at home.
Scientists warn that global warming linked to human fossil fuel use could make such scorchers more frequent.
In Spain, firefighters were continuing to battle a large forest fire in the northeastern Catalonia region.