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Europe’s heatwave could persist into next week after peaking

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Firefighters tackle a wildfire near Manresa, Spain. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Firefighters tackle a wildfire near Manresa, Spain. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Firefighters tackle a wildfire near Manresa, Spain. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Europe's heatwave looks set to peak on Tuesday, but temperatures may remain above normal into the middle of next week, the World Meteorological Organisation said.

It warned that such events could occur with greater frequency in the future.

"The question that everybody is asking looking ahead is - when is this going to end?" said Robert Stefanski, chief of Applied Climate Services at the WMO. "Unfortunately, looking at all the models from all our partners at a national and regional level, possibly not until middle of next week."

Britain recorded its highest-ever temperature of 40C today, while firefighters in southwestern France battled to contain huge forest wildfires as a heatwave rising from the south settled over western Europe.

Mr Stefanski said he expected temperatures to peak on Tuesday but to stay above average.

At the same briefing, WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas warned that he expected to see a "much higher" number of heatwaves in future due to climate change.

"The direction is clear and in the future these kind of heatwaves are going to be normal and we will see even stronger extremes," said Mr Taalas, wearing short sleeves and a red and blue tie which he said he chose to illustrate the warming trend.

Officials at the same press briefing said they expected more deaths among the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions due to the ongoing heatwave as well as challenges for health systems due to increased demand.

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