The heat wave and persistent drought in the southern European holiday countries are leading to more and more fires in dry forests. The problem is only getting worse as temperatures of up to 40 degrees are expected in Italy and France in the coming days.
On the holiday island of Sicily, there is still an increased forest fire warning level in large parts on Thursday, as is Sardinia. Most recently, firefighters have repeatedly responded to forest and bush fires, for example in South Tyrol, Tuscany and in and around Rome.
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In France, the fire brigade on the Atlantic coast continued to fight a large-scale forest fire in the pine forests south of Bordeaux.
There has been an extreme drought in Italy for weeks. The government has already declared a state of emergency in five northern regions along the Po River due to the drought.
Other regions could follow, as Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli said in Parliament on Wednesday evening. In France, meteorologists expect a drought record by the end of July. Although there were storms with lots of rain in many places in the second half of June, the effect has largely disappeared – and the soil is drying out again.
Fans are selling like hot cakes in Spain: According to media reports, sales figures in Bilbao in the north of the country have risen by more than 50 percent. In 16 of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, the heat alarm should continue to apply on Thursday, in some of these regions even red alert.
In Croatia, too, the fire brigade fought near the Dalmatian town of Sibenik against a forest fire that hit two villages on the Krka Riviera, which is popular with holidaymakers, on Wednesday. The residents of Zaton and Raslina were taken to safety by boats across the Stubalj Bay. The situation is worse than it has been for ten years, the civil defense said.
On the Greek island of Samos, several towns were evacuated on Wednesday evening because of a wildfire that got out of control. A firefighting helicopter crashed into the sea from a low altitude off the coast of the island as the crew attempted to take water to fight the fire. Two occupants lost their lives, and the pilot was later taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
A fourth inmate who was initially missing swam ashore, the Greek coast guard said. It was initially unclear why the helicopter crashed.
In contrast to the extreme heat in the Mediterranean region, midsummer but comparatively pleasant temperatures are expected in Germany. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), it only gets really hot in the south, where temperatures of up to 35 degrees can be expected in Breisgau. It will be less warm in the north with maximum values between 18 and 21 degrees, in the rest of the country 22 to 28 degrees are to be expected.
In view of the advancing climate change and the threat of natural disasters, the state development bank KfW advocated compulsory insurance against natural hazards. “Against the background of global warming, there are particularly negative consequences for Europe due to flooding, water shortages and extreme heat,” said KfW chief economist Fritzi Köhler-Geib of the “Rheinische Post”. “We must therefore expect more frequent extreme weather events and major damage in Germany in the future – and prepare for them.”