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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
South Europe hit by extreme heat
Forest fire in Greece
Forest fires have raged across Greece amid soaring temperatures
South-Eastern Europe is reeling from hot weather that has killed more than 30 people and caused economic hardship.

The heat was blamed for 30 deaths in Romania and several elsewhere in the region. Farms in Serbia have seen much of this year's harvest scorched.

The record-breaking heat has also been blamed for widespread forest fires.

Parts of northern Europe have meanwhile seen vast floods and heavy rainfall - sparking fears that climate change may be to blame for the extreme weather.

City threatened

Unusually high temperatures of more than 40C (104F) have been recorded in several parts of southern and eastern Europe.

On Monday, temperatures of 45C (113F) were recorded in Bulgaria - the hottest since records began, officials said.

Temperatures in Romania are expected to reach 41C (106F) for the second day running on Tuesday, prompting authorities to put emergency services in many areas on "red alert".

In neighbouring Serbia, the agriculture ministry says 30% of the country's annual harvest has been destroyed because of the heat, with the wheat, soya and vegetable crops worst hit by the heat.

Belgrade has introduced restrictions on the export of agricultural products.

Hundreds of forest fires have been reported in Greece, where two pilots died on Monday after a water-bombing aircraft they were flying over a forest fire crashed.

Another such aircraft flying over a forest fire in Italy crashed on Monday, killing three people.

In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, thousands of firefighters, soldiers and local people have been battling through the night to stop a forest fire from reaching the country's second-largest city, Bitola.

According to the Associated Press news agency, the encroaching blaze ignited mines and weapons that had lain buried in the soil since World War I.

Map showing location of jet stream
In a 'normal' summer, the Atlantic jetstream directs areas of low pressure, which bring cloud and rain, to the north of the UK. High pressure systems over Europe and the Atlantic bring warm, settled conditions.
Pressure chart: 29/6/06. Source: Met Office

Map showing weather patterns in Europe
This summer, the jetstream is flowing further south allowing low pressure systems to sweep straight over the centre of Britain. It is also pulling in warmer air from the sub-tropics and Africa which is sweeping over south-eastern Europe.
Pressure chart: 24/07/07. Source: Met Office

Raging forest fires caused by the heatwave

In pictures: Europe heatwave
25 Jun 07 |  In Pictures

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