Records fall as extreme heat hit Western Europe

Online desk |  3 weeks ago | international

Heat records tumbled and firefighters faced new blazes as much of Western Europe baked in a gruelling heatwave.

The UK, normally used to milder climates, saw temperatures of more than 40C (104F) for the first time.

Germany saw its hottest day of the year so far while Portugal raised its death toll after days of excess heat.

Deadly wildfires have swept the continent. The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned there was worse to come.

Heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense, and last longer because of human-induced climate change.

"In the future these kinds of heatwaves are going to be normal, and we will see even stronger extremes," WMO chief Peterri Taalas said.

In addition to record temperatures in the UK, several fire services declared major incidents after a surge in fires.

A major blaze in Wennington, east London, set homes alight. Residents who had to be evacuated told the BBC that some eight homes and possibly a local church had been destroyed in the fire, while a firefighter at the scene described it as "absolute hell".

In France, 64 different areas registered record-high temperatures on Monday.

Although the all-time high for mainland France has not been topped, the south-west of the country has experienced its biggest wildfires in more than 30 years. Since 12 July, fires have engulfed more than 20,300 hectares (49,400 acres) of the wine-growing Gironde region.

Nearly 37,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Cooler weather has now returned to the UK and France.