Italy issues ‘extreme’ health warning for 15 cities as heatwave grips Europe

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Italian authorities have issued an “extreme” health risk for 15 cities including Rome and Florence this weekend as a heatwave that is baking Europe threatens to bring record temperatures.

Climate scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) say temperatures could reach 48°C [118.4°F] on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, “potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.”

The Italian health ministry is advising the public to stay hydrated, eat lighter meals and avoid direct sunlight between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m..

The ESA warned that Europe’s heatwave has only just begun with Spain, France, Germany and Poland also expected to see extreme weather, just as the continent welcomes an influx of tourists.

Greece shut the Acropolis of Athens for a second straight day Saturday amid fierce temperatures. Local police helped a tourist who got into difficulty on Friday.

There is particular concern over those working outdoors after a 44-year-old construction worker in Italy died after collapsing on a roadside earlier in the week,

Authorities in Spain warned the heatwave is not just hitting the usual frying pan areas in the south, but also affecting the country’s typically cooler north.

In the south, temperatures in the cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada have reached 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spain’s national weather service says it’s also sizzling on Spain’s resort island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea with highs of 36 degrees Celsius, or 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, even the normally mild region of Navarra in the north is seeing up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Heat is one of the deadliest natural hazards – more than 61,000 people died in Europe’s searing summer heat wave last year.

The current heat wave – named “Cerberus” by the Italian Meteorological Society after the three-headed monster that features in Dante’s “Inferno” – has prompted further fears for people’s health, especially as it coincides with one of the busiest periods of Europe’s summer tourist season.

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