Southern Europe is in the grip of a severe heatwave with temperatures expected to rise to seriously dangerous levels over the next few days.
The extreme weather situation has been called a Cerberus heatwave – named by the Italian Meteorological Society after the three-headed monster that features in Dante’s Inferno.
In Italy many people have been reported as collapsing through heatstroke around tourist attractions, and one workman died in the north of the country whilst carrying out basic road maintenance.
Spain has seen its temperatures soar in the last few days, rising as high as 45C and on the holiday island of Majorca, it was reported that as early as 4am people were attempting to sleep in sweltering heat measuring 37C.
France, Greece, Turkey and Croatia are also expected to see the mercury comfortably pass the 40C (104F) mark over the coming days, with authorities frantically issuing safety warnings.
Europe’s hottest-ever temperature of 48.8C (119.8F), which was recorded in August 2021 near to Syracuse on the Italian island of Sicily, is under threat and expected to be broken at some point in the next week.
Italian cities on red alert
The Italian government has issued red alert warning to the citizens and visitors of ten of its major cities where temperatures are expected to be the most severe, including Rome, Florence, Naples, and Bologna.
The basic advice is for people to drink at least two litres of water daily and to avoid the dehydrating drinks such as coffee and alcohol. This is on top of the obvious instruction to stay out of the sun where ever possible.
Unbearable heat claims life
In the north of the country where temperatures are marginally lower, it was reported that a 44-year-old worker who was simply painting zebra crossing lines in the town of Lodi, near Milan, had collapsed during the process from the extreme heat. He was taken to hospital, but had sadly died a short while later.
Italian politician Nicola Fratoianni tweeted: “We are facing an unbearable heatwave, maybe it’s the case that in the hottest hours, all the useful precautions are taken to avoid tragedies like the one that happened today in Lodi.”
Hotline dealing with increasing cases
On the Balearic island of Majorca, Spanish officials have said that their emergency health hotline has had to deal with more than one case of heatstroke every day since May and with the sharp rise in temperatures in the last few day and likelihood of higher to come, they are gearing themselves for that rate to increase still further.
The Extremadura region in the south west of the country had a satellite image recorded by the EU’s Copernicus Sentinel mission, which revealed a staggering land temperature of 60C (140F).
Last year’s deaths total could be surpassed
There is a genuine fear that the amount of deaths this summer could rise above the figure of 61,672 which was the official number of people in Europe who lost their lives with the cause attributed to the heat last year, with Italy and Spain accounting for almost half of them.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather forecasts recently reported that globally, June 2023 was the hottest on record.