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Europe Heatwave: Deadly Mediterranean Wildfires Spread

BBC- In the midst of a heatwave that is showing no signs of abating, thousands of firefighters are battling wildfires in Portugal, Spain, and southwestern France.

A pilot from northern Portugal perished in the Foz Coa region, close to the Spanish border, when his waterbombing aircraft crashed.

More than 12,000 people have been evacuated from the Gironde region of France as fires rage through the area.

A wildfire that was raging in the Mijas hills in southern Spain, close to the Costa del Sol, forced nearly 2,300 residents to leave.

Visitors to Torremolinos’ beach witnessed large smoke plumes rising in the hills where numerous planes were battling the flames.

In the meantime, a local person said the forest fires in the south-west Atlantic coast of France felt “post-apocalyptic.”

Karyn, who lives next to Teste-de-Buch, told news agency AFP, “I’ve never seen this before.”

Nearly 10,000 hectares of land have been destroyed by one fire and another one just south of Bordeaux (25,000 acres). The fires are being fought by about 3,000 firefighters.

Since Tuesday, temperatures have surged to over 40°C in Spain and 47°C in Portugal, which has dried up the landscape and stoked the fires. According to Spain’s Efe news agency, more than 300 people have perished in both nations as a result of the heat.

The Portuguese pilot who perished was operating a Fire Boss amphibious aircraft by himself.

The areas of Portugal most prone to fire are to the north and east of Porto. This year, fires have devastated 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land, which is the largest area since the terrible fires that struck Portugal in the summer of 2017 and resulted in about 100 fatalities.

The Mediterranean is also affected in other areas. The government of Italy has declared a state of emergency in the parched Po Valley, where the longest river in the nation is at times barely a trickle.

Firefighters in Greece are putting out fires at Rethymno, on the north coast of Crete, and in the Feriza region, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south-east of Athens. Near Rethymno, seven villages have been evacuated.

A number of villages in northern Morocco had to be evacuated due to flames that spread throughout the provinces of Larache, Ouezzane, Taza, and Tetouan. In the vicinity of Ksar El Kebir, one village was completely destroyed, and a fire claimed at least one life.

With 16 districts on orange alert for severe weather, France has also experienced oppressive heat of around 40 degrees Celsius and anticipates more next week.

The leader of the French Firefighters Federation has issued a warning about the effect that climate change is having on civil defense. Grégory Allione stated that “firefighters and civil security are the ones who deal with the impacts on a daily basis – and these effects aren’t in 2030, they’re right now.”

Due to human-induced climate change, heatwaves are now more common, more powerful, and stay longer. Since the start of the industrial period, the world has already warmed by around 1.1C, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments drastically reduce carbon emissions.

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