4 August 2003

Guardian Unlimited | British temperatures set to soar:
In Europe, the heatwave and strong winds have stoked a series of forest fires that have been raging through Spain and Portugal.

In Portugal, the government was preparing to declare a state of public calamity today as almost 3,000 firemen struggled to contain more than 70 wildfires raging across the country.

Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso said his Cabinet would hold an emergency meeting to discuss measures aimed at halting the country's worst forest fires in decades, which have killed nine people.

'This is the worst tragedy in living memory in terms of fires,' Mr Barroso said. About 400 soldiers, 780 firefighting vehicles and dozens of aircraft, some of them provided by Spain, Italy and Morocco, were deployed to help fight the blazes.

A similar but smaller operation has been taking place in southern Spain, where 500 people have been evacuated from their homes. Authorities there said two out of three active fires were under control today.

There were no reported casualties in the forest fires but RNE state radio cited health authorities in the southern region of Andalucia as saying seven people had died since Thursday of heat-related illnesses.

Health officials said cases of heat stroke had risen 10% year-on-year as temperatures in some southern cities topped 46F, according to RNE. In the last few days several towns, mostly in Andalucia, have recorded their highest temperatures since records began.

In Canada, 8,500 people have been evacuated as emergency crews battle to contain the worst fires to ravage British Columbia for 50 years.

The winds that have been fuelling three large fires near Kamloops, about 170 miles northeast of Vancouver, have died down, but heavy smoke hampered efforts to move firefighters and aircraft into some areas, officials said.

British Columbia - about the size of France and Germany combined - is under a state of emergency. About 80 Canadian military personnel are being brought in to assist more than 700 civilian firefighters already in the Kamloops area.

The Pacific nation of Tuvalu is suffering desperate water shortages because of saltwater infiltrating its water table and rising tide levels and is considering the possibility of evacuating the entire nation to Australia or New Zealnd. Inland Australia is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record. The extreme weather events this month are catalogued by the US government.

As This is not a blog commented a while ago:
Good thing the earth isn't warming

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