Huge wildfire rages on La Palma forcing thousands to evacuate
Holidaymakers have been evacuated from at least six seaside communities in Greece as their homes are threatened by wildfires amid the extreme heat hitting Europe that will likely last until August.
Gusts of wind up to 45 mph are pushing flames through hillside scrub and pine forests parched by extreme heat near Athens, leading authorities to issue the evacuation orders on Monday.
Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization warned that the heatwave affecting the Mediterranean is forecast to intensify by mid-week, including in Greece, and is likely to continue into August in some places.
New records have already been set for specific weather stations in parts of the northern hemisphere and new national records may also be set, the UN agency’s website said.
Another anticyclone dubbed “Charon”, who in Greek mythology was the ferryman of the dead, advanced into the region from north Africa on Sunday and could lift temperatures well above 45C in parts of Italy, Spain and Greece.
The hottest temperature recorded in Europe was 48.8C in Sicily, in August 2021.
It comes as extreme temperatures are breaking records worldwide as both the US and China saw the mercury crossing 50C on Sunday.
Southern Europe weather forecast today
Southern European countries grappling with intense heat could see the mercury soar even further starting today as forecasts show temperatures rising as high as 46C in some parts.
Italy, Spain and Greece are forecast to see temperatures above 40C in large parts as a second heatwave named Charon engulfs the region.
Sardinia and Sicily are expected to see temperatures above 45C or even as high as 48C, which, if it happens, could threaten the 48.8C record for Europe’s highest-ever temperature.
Weather maps show the heatwave intensifying in the middle of the week before a brief respite by the end of the week in some parts of Italy.
Here’s a country-wise breakdown and temperature forecast:
Stuti Mishra18 July 2023 04:07
UK government plan to prepare for climate change ‘deeply disappointing’
Meanwhile, in the UK, leaked government plans for adapting the UK to the effects of climate change have been labelled as “deeply disappointing”.
The latest National Adaptation Programme had been expected to be published on Tuesday, but was released on Monday following a leak to The Guardian newspaper.
The 140-page document offers a five-year plan that ministers said would boost resilience and help protect people, homes and businesses from heatwaves, droughts, floods and the other damaging impacts of climate change.
It also commits the Ministry of Justice to research the impact of climate on staff and prisoner behaviour, with pilots planned by 2027.
On the natural environment, Defra also pointed to plans for environmental land management schemes and local nature recovery strategies.
But the plan was criticised for failing to properly grapple with adaptation planning.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called it “deeply disappointing and really lacking in ambition”.
Matt Drake17 July 2023 22:30
WHO director-general warns that the Climate Crisis is ‘not a warning’
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, wrote on Twitter: “In many parts of the world, today is predicted to be the hottest day on record.
“And these records have already been broken a few times this year. Heatwaves put our health and lives at risk.
“The #ClimateCrisis is not a warning. It’s happening. I urge world leaders to act now.”
It comes as many parts of Italy are poised to hit 45C on Tuesday.
Matt Drake17 July 2023 21:42
Watch: New Delhi flooded as river water levels break 40-year record
New Delhi flooded as river water levels break 40-year record
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 20:42
EU debating whether to set higher climate target ahead of Cop28, draft document suggests
European Union members are debating whether to update their climate pledge ahead of this year’s Cop28 summit, to show they expect to exceed their current goal for CO2 emission cuts, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
The bloc has one of the most ambitious climate targets among major economies, having enshrined in law a commitment to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions 55 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
The document said EU countries may notify the UN that they can reach a 57 per cent emissions cut. The text was in brackets, indicating it is not yet agreed by all countries, and the improved goal would only occur if member states comply with recently-passed EU policies to expand renewables and impose higher fees on polluting firms.
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 20:17
Greek rescuers help monks free monastery threatened by flames
In Greece, where two wildfires near Athens forced the evacuation of at least six seaside communities, the army, police forces and volunteer rescuers are reported to have freed retirees from their homes, rescued horses from a stable, and helped monks flee a monastery threatened by the flames.
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 19:48
‘It’s terrifying’: Spain braces for worst of heatwave
In the latest of The Independent’s “In Focus” series, Graham Keeley reports from Madrid:
For Kinvara Vaughan, the prospect of record temperatures hitting the Mediterranean from Tuesday fills her with dread.
“I saw the headline: heat storm heading for Europe this week. It is terrifying. We are doing a spectacular job destroying the planet,” she says from her home in Marbella, southern Spain.
Parts of southern Europe could hit its hottest ever temperature on Italy’s islands of Sicily and Sardinia, where a high of 48C is predicted, according to the European Space Agency. Spain’s Aemet weather agency said the heatwave this week “will affect a large part of the countries bordering the Mediterranean”, with temperatures in some southern areas of Spain exceeding 42C.
The power of the sun is very real for Vaughan, given a discovery by her doctors earlier this year. “They discovered three moles with stage one melanoma, and they could treat them. They said that I would not need chemotherapy. It was a shock as I had not been for a check-up for over three years. I was so lucky, ” the 47-year-old half-British, half-Canadian equestrian centre manager tells The Independent.
Read the full article with Independent Premium:
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 19:31
Air quality alerts issued across the US as Canadian wildfire smoke returns
Canadian wildfire smoke has returned to parts of the United States this week, our senior climate correspondent Louise Boyle reports.
Air quality alerts were issued for the northern High Plains, the Midwest, Great Lakes, central Tennessee, North Carolina and the Northeast through Tuesday as northwesterly winds pushed smoke down from fires raging across Canada.
Smoke concentrations will recede over central parts of the US on Tuesday but may still cause poor air quality along the East Coast, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported.
The higher concentrations of smoke will result in unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups cause by high levels of particulate matter PM2.5.
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 18:49
Experts warn of workers exposed to potentially fatal heat
Experts have warned of the potentially deadly impacts on workers exposed to extreme heat, as they criticised insufficient health and safety protections despite the increasing risk.
“It is clear that in many parts of the world, workers in high exposure sectors such as agriculture and construction are at increasing risk from heat stress, yet there are still insufficient health and safety protections,” said Professor Elizabeth Robinson, of the London School of Economics.
“There is still insufficient understanding of how worker health is being harmed, the extent to which workers are able to adapt to the reality of increasing frequency and intensity of extreme heat, and the extent to which employers are taking action to protect workers’ health.”
Dr Shouro Dasgupta, also of LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, added: “Heatwaves result in increased risk of discomfort, of limitations in physical functions and capabilities, and ultimately also of injuries and heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, and heat exhaustion, to potentially fatal heat stroke.
“Workers might think about changing what they wear, taking additional breaks, and increasing rehydration.”
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 18:27
Man detained on suspicion of arson as wildfires force large evacuations near Athens
Hundreds of children have been evacuated from a summer camp and villagers forced to leave their homes as two separate wildfires fanned by strong winds damaged houses to the southeast and west of Athens, authorities said.
The blaze that broke out in the village of Kouvaras, just 17 miles from the Greek capital, spread fast amid erratic winds, a Greek fire service official said. Some 200 firemen with the help of around 20 soldiers, 68 engines and 16 aircraft were trying to control the flames, the official added.
Greek television showed several houses and cars gutted by the blaze and thick white smoke billowing from burning vegetation.
“Due to high winds, the blaze spread across 12 kilometres in two hours,” a Greek Fire Service spokesperson said, adding that police had detained a person suspected of arson. Fire brigade services have been placed on standby in the wider Athens area.
Around 1,200 children from a summer camp and residents of a rehabilitation centre were evacuated in another wildfire close to the seaside resort of Loutraki, about 50 miles west of Athens, a local mayor told Greek television.
Andy Gregory17 July 2023 17:48
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