(Bordeaux) After Spain and Portugal already in the midst of a heat wave, France in turn plunged into a second heat wave on Wednesday in barely a month, with its corollary: forest fires.
In Greece, a helicopter trying to put out a forest fire in Samos crashed in the Aegean Sea, we learned from the Greek coast guard.
“There is one survivor and a rescue operation is underway to find the other three crew members,” a coast guard official said.
In the West, almost all of Spain was on Wednesday on alert due to the heat wave with highs exceeding 45 degrees, before Thursday which should be the hottest day.
The heat wave, which started there last weekend and is expected to last at least until Sunday, is resulting in stifling temperatures across the country, particularly in the regions of Andalusia (south), Extremadura ( southwest) and Galicia (northwest), placed on red alert, according to the Spanish meteorological agency (Aemet).
Apart from the Canary archipelago, all other Spanish regions have been placed on alert at lower degrees.
A maximum of 45.6 ° C was recorded at 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. GMT) in Almonte (south) in Andalusia, while several cities in the south exceeded 44 ° C, such as Seville, Cordoba or Badajoz.
In Portugal, a fire overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday killed one person in the region of Aveiro (north), according to the emergency services, which have been strongly mobilized for several days. According to the newspaper Correio da Manha, it would be a woman in her fifties.
Peak expected Monday in France
The center of the country, which has been in flames since Thursday, remains the most affected by the forest fires which flared up again on Tuesday afternoon, fanned by the heat and the force of the wind.
Wednesday morning, four major outbreaks mobilized more than 1,500 firefighters in the municipalities of Leiria, Pombal and Ourém, located just over a hundred kilometers from Lisbon.
“We live in a region of the world where climate change will systematically worsen conditions over the next few years,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa insisted on Tuesday.
Drought and heat waves favoring these disasters are a direct consequence of climate change according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.
Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, has warned in recent days of a critical situation of “very, very dry soils” and the impact of temperatures on the glaciers of the Alps.
Like its neighbours, France has been facing a heat wave since Monday for the second time in a month, with a peak expected for Monday, according to Météo-France forecasts. That day, temperatures “of more than 40 ° C are possible” in the most affected regions, South-West and lower Rhône valley in particular, the agency announced on Wednesday.
On the ground, two fires, fueled “by dry vegetation, in particular undergrowth” according to the prefecture, have ravaged since Tuesday afternoon 2,700 hectares of pines in the Bordeaux region (south-west).
“We have two complicated fires”, with a “turning wind on the two sites” in Landiras, near Bordeaux, and at La Teste-de-Buch, near the Dune du Pilat, “which forces us to reassess the situation all the time. device, ”explained to AFP the commander of the fire brigade, Matthieu Jomain, on the spot.
In addition, legal investigations are underway to determine the origin of the two fires. If in Landiras, it is for the moment undetermined, in La Teste-de-Buch, “it’s really an accident or a truck breakdown, a truck that caught fire in any case”, indicated the prefect during an update in the afternoon.
The intensity of this second heat wave to hit the country in a month is already estimated to be “equivalent” to the deadly heat wave of August 2003 (with nearly 19,500 deaths in France), noted Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo-France.
But its duration should be “less”, since it is currently estimated at 8 to 10 days, compared to two weeks in 2003.
The high temperatures are then expected to spread to other parts of western or central Europe.
In the United Kingdom, the weather agency (Met Office) issued an orange alert before a wave of “extreme heat” from Sunday with temperatures that could exceed 35 degrees.
The British have also been called upon by their water companies to save every drop, in particular by heating only the quantity strictly necessary for their cup of tea.