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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Heatwave toll rises across France
A man holds his child in front of a giant spray near the Eiffel Tower in Paris
People are being urged to stay in the shade and drink plenty of water
At least 20 deaths in France this week are probably linked to a heatwave gripping much of Europe, officials say.

Among the victims were a 15-month-old baby and 10 elderly people, the French Health Ministry said in a statement.

In the Netherlands, two people died of heatstroke earlier this week. Germany and Spain have each reported two deaths blamed on the punishing heat.

Temperatures of well above 30C (86F) have been registered across Europe, prompting a series of health warnings.

Several of the French victims collapsed at their workplace and two died while playing sport, the ministry's statement said.

'Orange alert'

French meteorologists have placed some regions of the country on the second-highest warning level - orange alert - saying that temperatures there could reach 38C (100.4F) in the coming days.

The hot spell has raised concerns that there could be a repeat of a heatwave in the summer of 2003, when some 15,000 people died in France as a result of heatstroke and dehydration.

In other developments across Europe:

  • Italy's regions of Liguria and parts of Umbria have been placed on the highest level of alert, with temperatures expected to reach 40C (104F) over the weekend

  • In Britain, forecasters have predicted another heatwave next week, although the mercury is down to 32C (89.6F) on Friday from 36.5C (97.7F) registered two days ago

  • In Croatia, the hot weather has been blamed for a series of fires that have destroyed hundreds of hectares of forest and woodland

People are being urged to stay in the shade and drink plenty of water.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Europe wilts in heat wave
21 Jul 06 |  In Pictures
Europe heatwaves 'soon routine'
14 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature
Emissions double heatwave risk
01 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature

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