Authorities in Spain, Portugal and Italy are battling to control the ongoing heat wave as Monday sees intense temperatures scorch areas across the European continent.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Monday that he wanted to share evidence that “climate change kills,” as he visited the Extremadura region ravaged by wildfires in Western Spain.
“I would like to share the evidence and it is that climate change kills, kills people as we have seen, kills our ecosystem, our biodiversity,” Sanchez said.
“It also destroys our most valuable assets, societies find themselves affected by these changes, their houses, homes, businesses, their cattle.”
Sanchez continued to say that so far this year more than 70,000 hectares (more than 172,900 acres) have been destroyed as a consequence of the fires in our country.
“70,000 hectares, to give you an idea is almost double of the last decade’s average. So far this year we have had 11 big fires,” he said.
Almost the entire country faces an extreme fire risk with many regions now classed as an “extreme” level of heat, according to Spain’s national weather agency AEMET.
Spain is also mourning the loss of a firefighter Daniel Gullón Vara, a firefighter who had been working to extinguish a wildfire in the Zamora province. During his visit to the area, Sanchez offered his condolences and said that Vara represents those “fighting every day on the frontline of the fires.”
In Portugal, around 80 municipalities in 10 districts remain under the highest threat level for wildfires, especially in the northeastern part of the country, according to the Portuguese weather service, the Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).
Nearly 1,000 firefighters, supported by around 300 vehicles and aircraft, are deployed across the country, battling five major wildfires, the Portuguese Civil Protection Authority said in its latest update. The largest fire is currently raging in Fundão, in the Castelo Branco district.
Temperatures in Portugal have cooled down slightly after reaching record-breaking levels for July last week. On Monday, they were hovering just below 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in most parts of the country.
Despite a short respite, IPMA forecasts temperatures will go up again from Wednesday, rising to around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas.
Regions in Italy that are worst hit by drought are being asked to ration water as the country declared a state of emergency earlier this month.
In areas near the Po River valley, cities are cutting water supplies during the night, and residents are prevented from washing their cars and watering their gardens.
In the small town of Castenaso, close to Bologna, an order from the town’s mayor has prohibited hairdressers and barbers from washing clients’ hair twice in an attempt to save water before water supplies run too low.
In Milan, Italy’s financial hub, the mayor has ordered all ornamental fountains turned off and prohibited the washing of private vehicles or watering of gardens and lawns.
And Rome is offering free swimming pool entrance tickets for people over 70 years old “to offer them refreshment facing the high summer temperatures,” according to Rome’s City Council.