Wildfires rage as heatwave hits Southern Europe

A heatwave, the worst in a decade, is sweeping across Southern Europe, triggering raging wildfires in several countries.

Experts have linked wildfires to record-high temperatures as Europe is in the midst of the heatwave due to the heat dome which is a high-pressure bubble that traps heat within a certain area, reports Xinhua news agency.

Temperatures in Siracuse, Italy, reached 48.8 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

The World Meteorological Organization said that it would be investigating the validity of this temperature report. If verified, it would become the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.

Greece has been one of the badly affected countries, with more than 100,000 hectares of forestry and farmland burned in less than two weeks, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

The Greek government said there have been nearly 600 fires since the beginning of August.

The fires broke out as Greece was roasted by the most intense and protracted heatwave in around 30 years, with temperatures in many parts of the country reaching 42 to 45 degrees Celsius.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday that the country came across the biggest ecological disaster of the last few decades, as multiple blazes erupted across the country powered by the extended heatwave recently.

In Spain, record high prices for electricity have been registered almost every day since Monday, coinciding with a heatwave which has seen temperatures rise to around 40 degrees Celsius in the capital of Madrid and several major cities.

On Thursday, dozens of firefighters backed by four water-dropping aircraft were battling a blaze in the northeastern province of Tarragona. The fire has destroyed some 40 hectares of protected forest, local officials said.

Two smaller fires were also burning in the northern wine-producing region of La Rioja and the northeastern province of Zaragoza.

In Albania, the country’s Defence Ministry said on Friday that there have been six active fires across the country, but the situation is under control.

In Malta, the southern European island country was also hit by a strong heatwave, with temperatures in some places reaching 43 degrees Celsius.

According to the country’s Civil Protection Department, Malta recorded 513 fires between June 1 and August 10.