Monday 18 December 2017

Lifeguards working at night as extreme heatwave hits Australia

Keeping cool in Melbourne yesterday, where temperatures have soared to 45C
Keeping cool in Melbourne yesterday, where temperatures have soared to 45C

Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

Australia is sweltering in an extreme heatwave which has forced beach lifeguards to work at night and left players and ballboys hallucinating and complaining of "inhumane" conditions at the Australian Open tennis championship.

The worst-affected cities of Melbourne, where the tennis tournament is taking place, and Adelaide, face daily temperatures of up to 113F (45C) for the rest of the week. The state of Victoria has warned that it is facing its highest risk of fire since the devastating Black Saturday bush fires in 2009, which killed 173 people and destroyed 2,000 homes. Tens of thousands of firemen have been put on standby and fire bans have been imposed across the state.

In Melbourne, the state capital, authorities have called on volunteer lifeguards to patrol popular beaches until 9pm as residents seek respite in the ocean late into the evening.

At the Australian Open yesterday, a ballboy collapsed and plastic water bottles melted on the courts. A Canadian player, Frank Dancevic, hallucinated and thought he saw Snoopy, the cartoon character, before collapsing and receiving treatment during his first-round defeat to France's Benoit Paire.

The temperatures at the tournament hit a high of 109F (42.8C). (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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