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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Europe's heatwave claims victims
Children play in fountains in Paris
Temperatures are soaring in many countries
A heatwave affecting much of Western Europe has resulted in several deaths, health officials say.

In the Netherlands, an annual walking event in the city of Nijmegen had to be called off at the half-way stage after two walkers died of heatstroke.

France's health minister linked nine recent deaths to soaring temperatures. In Paris, they hit 36C (97F).

Britain recorded its hottest day of the year so far, as temperatures hit 36.3C (97.3F) near London's Gatwick airport.

In Italy, farm union officials said the country was suffering one of the worst droughts in decades.

Russians cool off in river    AP
Heatwaves could become routine

The heatwave also forced France's energy company, EDF, to scale back electricity generation at some of its nuclear power stations. The company asked its major clients to limit their electricity use.

The punishing heat has sparked a series of health warnings.

Officials are urging people to stay in the shade and drink plenty of water.

The hot spell is being compared to a heatwave in the summer of 2003, when some 20,000 people died across Europe as a result of heatstroke and dehydration.

See the effects caused by the heatwave around Europe

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