The last day of June has beaten all previous temperature highs for the month. Heat-related deaths have been reported in several European countries.
Germany set its all-time highest June temperature on Sunday, with 38.9 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The country has been baking in an early summer heat wave; however, Germany’s all-time high of 40.3 degrees Celsius still stands.
Fifty-seven runners at Hamburg’s half marathon were hospitalized on Sunday after many collapsed in temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius, officials said. Some 141 runners needed treatment in what fire service officials described as “an emergency with mass casualties.”
Temperatures in the country’s central Rhine-Main region and into eastern Germany were expected to reach up to 39 degrees on Sunday, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).
Organizers of Sunday’s Frankfurt Ironman event made contingency plans to keep athletes from overheating.
As huge crowds gathered in Paris for the annual gay pride parade, firefighters sprayed water on revelers, some of whom used rainbow-colored fans and umbrellas to counter the heat, which was expected to hit 38 degrees.
Heat-related deaths have been reported in Germany and France, mainly among the elderly. At least eight people drowned in bathing accidents across the two countries.
France’s new record temperature of 45.9 degrees was set on Friday near the southern city of Montpellier, the Meteo-France weather service said. It is just the seventh European nation — along with Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia — to record temperatures above 45 degrees.
During Sunday prayers in Rome, Pope Francis said he was praying “for those who have suffered the most from the consequences of this heat.”
Meteorologists blamed a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the scorching early European summer, but temperatures are set to drop for the remainder of the week over much of Europe.
Drownings and wildfires
The heatwave sparked large blazes including in Spain, where firefighters on Saturday fought wildfires just as they finally contained another inferno after nearly 72 hours.
Wildfires burned down several houses and at least 550 hectares (1,359 acres) of land in the south of France as temperatures hit upwards of 45 degrees on Saturday.
The blistering heat also claimed the lives of a 17-year-old harvest worker in Spain and a 72-year-old homeless man in Italy.
In Stuttgart, six people were injured when their balcony collapsed. A group had filled a paddling pool on their apartment balcony to help escape from the heat.
However the overloaded structure collapsed, and people between the ages of 21 and 54 slipped four metres (13 feet) to the ground.
kw/jlw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)