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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Media sizzles over Europe heatwave
Children play in fountains in Antibes, France
Southern France experienced temperatures as high as 38C

The high temperatures plaguing large parts of western Europe are making more than the usual number of headlines reserved for summer heatwaves.

Attention is focused on France, where memories are still fresh of the freakishly hot summer of 2003.

The extremely hot weather is a leading item on French TV news bulletins, even pushing the crisis in Lebanon off the number one spot on TF1's lunchtime news.

France 2 television reports that so far, 40 deaths have been attributed to the heat - far below the thousands caused by the 2003 heatwave - with temperatures reaching a sweltering 38C in southern France.

Orange alerts were in force in 56 of mainland France's 95 departments, the TV says.

In a report from the south-western town of Dax, the television shows a young woman who had collapsed being helped by local firemen.

"Yesterday alone, five people were taken to hospital," the TV's reporter in Dax says.

The TV warned that the elderly and children were particularly badly affected by the heat.

"Furnace"

Weather forecasters say temperatures will peak on Wednesday, before returning to seasonal averages by the end of the week, according to Le Monde newspaper.

"The heat on Wednesday is likely to be terrible," the paper says, warning that ozone levels are expected to reach critical levels in Paris.

The city's inhabitants are being urged to use public transport or car-sharing where possible, while speed limits have been set at 20 km/h below the usual levels, the paper says.

"Paris furnace - 36 degrees in the shade," reads the front-page headline of the capital's own newspaper, Le Parisien.

Le Figaro, meanwhile, reports that 80 departments are facing droughts, with 43 already introducing restrictions on the use of water.

Environment Minister Nelly Olin described the situation as "extremely worrying", and as bad as in 2003 and 2005, the paper says.

"Suffocating"

The media in Spain and Italy - used to high summer temperatures - largely focus on the situation in France.

The Paris correspondent for Italy's RAI Uno describes the weather in the city as "suffocating".

"France isn't used to this heat", a reporter for Spanish news channel 24 Horas explains, "and there are still hospitals and even old people's homes without air conditioning".

But the heat is also causing problems in Spain itself, the TV adds, reporting that nine people are so far thought to have died of the high temperatures.

"Monster heat"

In Germany, where temperatures as high as 39C were recorded in the south on Tuesday, the hot weather is also proving troublesome, according to media reports.

"Monster heat," screams a headline in the biggest tabloid Bild.

Medical officials have warned of a possible jump in the number of salmonella cases because of food going off in the heat, the paper says, with more than 200 infections registered in the tiny state of Saarland alone.

The paper reports that Germans could face a leap in electricity prices, because of a lack of cooling water for nuclear power stations.

The country's public greenery is also suffering from drought, the paper says, adding that Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has urged Germans to water trees in the streets outside their houses.

"Even as little as 10-20 litres a day will help," the minister is quoted as saying.

The news channel n-tv says water levels in the river Elbe - the main waterway in eastern Germany - have dropped as to 90 cm in places, putting commercial shipping at risk.

In neighbouring Poland, meanwhile, this July has been the hottest since records began 227 years ago, the daily Gazeta Wyborcza quoted meteorologists as saying.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.





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SEE ALSO
In pictures: Sizzling Europe
25 Jul 06 |  In Pictures

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