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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
No let-up in Europe heatwave
Villagers watch blaze in central Portugal
Portugal is seeking help from Nato
Europe is continuing to swelter under a heatwave which has sent temperatures soaring right across the region.

At least 30 people have died in the blistering heat and in fires across the continent which are stretching emergency services to breaking point.

The death toll in Portugal rose to 14 after a couple were found dead in the aftermath of one blaze, as firefighters appeared to have brought most fires in the country under control.

But temperatures are continuing to reach 40C and with no sign of respite until next week at the earliest it is feared they could climb as high as 42C.

The Portuguese Government has asked Nato to provide water-carrying helicopters and equipment to help hundreds of firefighters still battling to control the blazes.

However, Nato spokesman Yves Brodeur told AFP news agency that there was little chance of the request being granted.

Europe's scorching summer

"There are few countries which possess such capabilities and those which have are using them," he said.

In neighbouring Spain, temperatures in the southern cities of Seville and Cordoba topped 41C. Three elderly women in the region died from the effects of the heat, bringing the country's total to 14.

In other parts of Europe:

  • Firefighters near the southern French town of Mende are struggling on the steep slopes of the Tarn river gorge to control a fire which flared up early on Wednesday
  • Dozens of people were evacuated as fires swept through areas of the Italian region of Tuscany and the island of Elba
  • Berlin public sector workers stopped work under rules allowing them to leave their desks if temperatures went over 29C
  • Officials in Croatia said the country was suffering the worst drought for 50 years, with its main river, the Sava, at its lowest level for 160 years
  • Mines left behind after the Bosnian war stopped firefighters battling a three-day-old blaze near Mostar
  • Fifty-four of France's 98 departments have requested state aid for drought-hit farmers
  • Polish firefighters battled 35 forest blazes and said there was serious fire risk in about a quarter of the country's woodlands
  • Amsterdam highs edged towards 30C, prompting zoo officials to spray ostriches with cold water and feed iced fruit to chimpanzees
  • Rail speed restrictions imposed in case tracks buckled in the heat were causing chaos and cancellations for UK rail travellers.

In France, where this summer has been declared the hottest since World War II.

Click below to see rainfall levels in Europe, April-June 2003

"The current heat is totally exceptional - even for August," Dominique Escale of France's national weather service Meteo France, said.

In the capital, Paris, residents have been taking to public fountains to cool off or seeking shelter in the shade of the Eiffel Tower.

With pollution levels in the city being exacerbated by the searing heat police have been forced to impose stringent traffic speed restrictions.

Slovenian temperatures are at their highest for a century and in Germany a record night-time high was registered on Monday.

Temperatures in Milan reached a record 38.5C, breaking a previous record set in 1902.


SEE ALSO:
Drought leaves Europe's farmers helpless
30 Jul 03  |  Science/Nature
In pictures: Portugal blazes
04 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
In pictures: Europe's forest fires
22 Jul 03  |  Photo Gallery
Killer storms lash France
16 Jul 03  |  Europe
Europe bakes in historic highs
15 Jul 03  |  Europe
Emergency threat in dry Italy
14 Jul 03  |  Europe


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