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Europe Sizzling From Summer Heat Wave


Europe is baking under a heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring past 36 degrees Celsius in some places. The sizzling weather is blamed for the deaths of at least half a dozen people. But from a very hot Paris, Lisa Bryant reports European governments are taking measures to prevent a repeat of a killer heat wave of three years ago.

It's all over the news these days. Apart from the violence in the Middle East, the heat wave in Europe is dominating the airwaves and newspaper headlines around the region.

Temperatures in parts of France were expected to soar as high as 36 degrees celsius Wednesday.

Other parts of Europe are expected to be even hotter, hovering near 37 degrees in Italy, and 38 in Britain, which could be that country's hottest day in 100 years. So far, the heat wave has killed at least six people around Europe, including three in France.

Weather forecasters are predicting no relief for Thursday. Thermometers in Germany are expected to climb to 37 degrees. Meteorologists say July could be Germany's hottest month in history.

The heat is accompanied by unusually dry weather in many places. The blue skies and blazing sun may be perfect for beachgoers, but not for farmers. Italy's main farmers union says the country is suffering one of its worst droughts of the last three decades.

And in France, the dry weather forced some local authorities to cancel Bastille holiday fireworks last week, for fear of fires. Europeans are not used to such hot temperatures and many offices, public transportation systems and homes don't have air conditioning, or even fans.

The sizzling scenario seems eerily similar to the heat wave of 2003, when heat was linked to the deaths of roughly 30,000 people around Europe, half of them in France. Things are different this summer.

French social workers and ordinary French are checking in on older people, to make sure they're o.k.. The government has established a weather warning system, and a help hot line for the elderly and other fragile people. Other European countries are taking similar preventative measures. Nobody wants a repeat of the killer heat wave of 2003.

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