Brutal Heat Sizzles Europe

Extreme heat and wildfires continued to rage across southern Europe Wednesday, a day after Greece’s maximum temperature reached 47.1 degrees Celsius.

Greece is experiencing one of the worst heat waves in decades, and the country remains on high alert as it continues to fight fires across the country.

Heat warnings have also been issued in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. In recent days, deadly wildfires have engulfed parts of Turkey and forced the evacuation of tourist resorts.

Residents of the Greek capital, Athens, were warned to stay indoors with windows closed because of poor air quality after a wildfire broke out Tuesday in a suburb north of the capital. The intense heat forced the Ministry of Culture to close the Acropolis and other ancient sites from noon to 5 p.m. local time this week.

The Greek fire department said Wednesday that it had been called to 78 wildfires in the past 24 hours. On the large island of Evia, northeast of Athens, a large fire raged Wednesday.

Wildfires also continued to burn in parts of Turkey on Tuesday due to the intense heat wave. At least eight people were killed in the fires in the provinces of Mugla and Antalya as of Tuesday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The heat wave in the region comes on the heels of devastating wildfires last week in Spain, Greece and the Italian island of Sardinia, and less than a month after catastrophic flooding in northern Europe killed more than 200 people.

Experts say extreme weather events such as floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as recent heat waves and wildfires in Canada and the United States, are a sign of the effects of climate change.

In southern Europe, droughts are becoming more frequent and severe, and conservationists have warned that the region is at greatest risk from the effects of climate change on the continent.

CNN forecasters reported that the current heat wave in the region will last at least through Friday.

The Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS), an EU program, said Wednesday that the Mediterranean region is turning into a “wildfire hotspot” and warned that fires already burning are releasing large amounts of smoke into the atmosphere.

“CAMS data show that wildfire emissions and intensity are increasing rapidly in Turkey and southern Italy, and countries such as Morocco, Albania, Greece, Northern Macedonia and Lebanon are also affected,” the press release said.

“Plumes of smoke from the fires are clearly visible in satellite images crossing the eastern Mediterranean basin from southern Turkey.”

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