Monday 20 August 2018

Heatwaves fuel a deadly trend across Europe

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, front centre, tours the burnt area of Mati, east of Athens, last week. Photo: AP
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, front centre, tours the burnt area of Mati, east of Athens, last week. Photo: AP

AshleyKirk

Europe has been ravaged by 43pc more wildfires this year than the average for the last 10 years.

At least 15 EU countries have experienced more wildfires than usual for this time of year, according to figures from the European Forest Fire Information System.

Several countries are in the grip of unprecedented wildfires, with fears that the death toll from blazes in Greece will top 100.

Residents and tourists were forced to flee to the sea to escape flames that tore through towns near Athens.

The increase has been driven by outbreaks in areas of central and northern Europe which are not normally prone to wildfires but have been hit by heatwaves.

Sweden, experiencing an unprecedented drought and the highest temperatures in a century, has counted more than 60 fires across the country.

Fires have also hit Finland's northernmost Lapland province, and a firefighter died tackling a blaze in Norway in July.

The largest increases in fires have been seen in Sweden and the UK, both of which have seen vastly more wildfires this year than the 10-year average.

Sweden has had 74, compared with an average of three, while the UK has had 71, with an average of nine.

Irish Independent

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