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The BBC's Paul Wood
"The nation is sweltering"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Greece plans for heatwave
Greek town
Some are heading for air-conditioned hotels
By Paul Wood in Athens

Greece is bracing itself as a heatwave is expected to peak over the next two days from Wednesday, with temperatures going as high as 43 C (110 F).

The Greek government has activated a civil emergency defence plan to deal with the heatwave, which is also affecting the rest of the Balkan peninsula, with forest fires from Croatia to Romania.

Parts of Athens are deserted, as people leave the city before the worst of the heatwave hits; or they choose to stay indoors where there's air-conditioning.

No-one has forgotten the killer heatwave of 1987, in which at least 950, and perhaps as many as 1200, people died.


Crowded beach
Beaches are expected to be crowded during the heatwave
That prompted many Greeks to buy air-conditioning, but for those who don't have it, local councils will ferry them to public buildings to keep cool - part of an emergency civil defence plan just activated by the government.

Under this plan, all leave has been cancelled for ambulance drivers, and hospitals are preparing to open around the clock to deal with cases of heat exhaustion.

Most Greeks are heading for the beaches and, over the summer, about a million British tourists are expected to join them.

The advice from the Greek government: "Don't under-estimate the strength of the sun or you could end up in hospital."

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