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A SCORCHING heat wave in the Mediterranean has sent summer temperatures soaring into the record books. The blistering conditions of 44ºC in Athens and central Greece have made this country’s hottest June and July ever.
Air conditioning systems working flat out pushed energy consumption towards an all-time high, state offices closed early and health officials said unnecessary travel should be avoided.
Spaniards are being besieged by television and radio advertisements to turn down the air conditioning as temperatures hit more than 40ºC. The Spanish power industry has to deal with sudden surges of demand and the government is worried about a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Temperatures in the southern Italian city of Bari reached 45ºC, while the Sicilian capital of Palermo hit 42ºC. Dozens of fires broke out in southern Italy and firefighters dropped tanks of water from aircraft to control the flames.
In western Turkey, temperatures there topped 44ºC. Turkey’s western regions reduced working hours for state officials and authorities urged the elderly and children to stay at home, out of the heat.
Temperatures in Bulgaria beat the record with the mercury shooting up to 44ºC and the authorities sprayed water on the tram rails to prevent them from buckling in the heat.
Northern Africa was also affected by the freak weather with temperatures of more than 42ºC recorded in Tunisia, where several fires were fanned by the heat and strong Sirocco winds.
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