London (UK)- A scorching heat wave in western Europe on Tuesday sparked fierce wildfires and strained emergency services as it swept north and over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Britain for the first time done
After the UK’s hottest night on record, the Met Office said a temp was recorded at 40.2C at lunchtime at West London’s Heathrow Airport, taking the country into uncharted territory.
Britain’s previous all-time temperature record of 38.7C, set in Cambridge, eastern England, in 2019, was already broken on Tuesday.
“For the first time, 40 Celsius has provisionally been exceeded in the UK,” the Met Office meteorological agency said, warning “temperatures are still climbing in many places”.
Experts blame climate change for the latest heatwave and note that the more frequent extreme weather will only worsen in years.
The high temperatures have triggered an unprecedented red alert for extreme heat in much of England, where some rail lines were closed as a precaution and schools shuttered in some areas.
All trains were cancelled from London’s usually busy Kings Cross station, leaving many travellers stranded. “It’s a little frustrating,” said American tourist Deborah Byrne, trying to reach Scotland.
But with road surfaces and runways melting and rails buckling, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps conceded much of Britain’s infrastructure “is just not built for this temperature”.
Tim Wainwright, chief executive of the charity WaterAid, said the situation should be “the wake-up call the world needs to stop climate change from claiming any more lives”.
_ ‘ Deaths’_
Several people have recently died due to the blazes, while an office worker in his 50s died from heatstroke in Madrid. In Portugal, more than 1,400 firefighters were fighting fires in the centre and north of the country, despite a recent drop in temperatures.
A couple in their 70s died Monday after they ran off the road while trying to escape the flames in their car.
Almost the entire country has been on high alert for wildfires despite a slight temperature drop, which last Thursday hit 47C — a record for July. The fires have already killed two other people, injured around 60 and destroyed between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of land there.