Summer heat kills 1,435 in France
The heatwave in 2003 killed almost 20,000 Europeans, including about 500 in Paris.
“The 2003 heatwave lasted 20 days,” said French heath minister Agnes Buzyn.
“[This year] we had 18 days in two waves and we managed to cut mortality by a factor of 10 thanks to preventative measures.”
Buzyn said 10 people died while at work.
About 5 per cent of French households have air conditioning, compared to 82 per cent in Australia.
Temperatures peaked at 46°C in Verargues in the southern France on June 28 – breaking the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.
Paris also saw a record high temperature of 42.6C in late July.
Record temperatures were also recorded in other European countries, including the UK, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Paris opened public air-conditioned rooms, including “cool rooms” in municipal buildings, operated a heatwave health hotline, keeping parks and gardens open 24 hours a day and extending the opening hours of swimming pools.
Red alerts, the most severe warning category, were issued in several areas of France.
During heatwaves, many schools and public events were closed to minimise public exposure.
According to the Ministry of Health, 567 people died during France’s first heatwave this year, from June 24 to July 7. A further 868 died during the second from July 21 to 27.
The heat caused wildfires in neighbouring Spain, with Catalonia experiencing some of its most devastating forest fires in 20 years.
Only France has released an official death toll caused by this year’s heatwaves.
Neighbouring Germany reported record solar power generation levels under the cloudless skies in June and July.
Cities trap heat in materials such as glass, dark asphalt and masonry with the urban island heat effect.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, said the record-breaking heat was a consequence of climate change.
“If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And, indeed, the iceberg is also rapidly melting,” the Portuguese envoy said.
“Preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives, and for our lives. It is a race that we can and must win.”
Cannes has been crowded this summer. Picture credit: Wikimedia