In Pictures: Wildfires and droughts ravage Europe as heatwave heads to UK

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A photo shows a forest fire in Louchats, south-western France, on July 17, 2022. (Photo by THIBAUD MORITZ / AFP) (Photo by THIBAUD MORITZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Wildfires were raging across much of southern Europe on Sunday. (Getty)

The heatwave sweeping southern Europe has caused hundreds of deaths and huge wildfires in Spain and Portugal, and is now heading to Britain and the north of the continent, with authorities urging people to act sensibly.

Much of Europe has experienced temperatures reaching into the mid-40s degrees Celsius (over 110F), with wildfires raging across tinder-dry countryside in Portugal, Spain and France.

Spain wildfires

Spain was facing the eighth and last day of a more than week-long heatwave on Monday, which has caused more than 510 heat-related deaths, according to estimates from the Carlos III Health Institute.

BARCELONA, CATALONIA, SPAIN - JULY 17: Neighbors collaborate in the work of extinction in a forest fire, on 17 July, 2022 seen from Sant Fruitos del Bages, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The fire has started today Sunday at noon and already affects 95 hectares, in its extinction work 81 teams of the Bombers de la Generalitat, of which 13 are aerial. The fire, fanned by the south wind, advances
Volunteers are joining firefighters in Catalonia as fire rage on fields near Barcelona. (Getty)
BARCELONA, CATALONIA, SPAIN - JULY 17: Smoke from a forest fire, on 17 July, 2022 in Pont de Vilomara, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The fire has started today Sunday at noon and already affects 95 hectares, in its extinction work 81 teams of the Bombers de la Generalitat, of which 13 are aerial. The fire, fanned by the south wind, advances
Smoke from a forest fire in Pont de Vilomara, Spain, could burn up to 1,500 hectares, it was reported. (Getty)
ALHAURIN EL GRANDE MALAGA, ANDA, SPAIN - JULY 15: More than a hundred professionals, 4 heavy fire fighting vehicles and 16 aerial means are working to stabilize the forest fire in the Sierra de Mijas on July 15, 2022 in Alhaurin el Grande (Malaga, Andalusia, Spain). (Photo By Alex Zea/Europa Press via Getty Images)
More than a hundred emergency service members, four heavy fire fighting vehicles and 16 aerial means are working to stabilise a forest fire near Malaga. (Getty)
ALHAURIN EL GRANDE MALAGA, ANDA, SPAIN - JULY 15: More than a hundred professionals, 4 heavy fire fighting vehicles and 16 aerial means are working to stabilize the forest fire in the Sierra de Mijas on July 15, 2022 in Alhaurin el Grande (Malaga, Andalusia, Spain). (Photo By Alex Zea/Europa Press via Getty Images)
A forest fire in the Sierra de Mijas in Andalusia, Spain. (Getty)

With fires burning thousands of hectares in Galicia, Castille and Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura and Andalusia, almost all of Spain faces a extreme fire risk.

More than 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) have burnt in the country so far this year.

Portugal wildfires

In Portugal, temperatures dropped over the weekend, but the risk of wildfires remained very high across most of the country, according to the Portuguese Institute of Meteorology (IPMA).

More than 1,000 firefighters, backed by 285 vehicles and 14 aircraft, were battling nine ongoing wildfires, mainly in the country's northern regions, authorities said.

TOPSHOT - A firefighter tackles a forest fire around the village of Eiriz in Baiao, north of Portugal, on July 15, 2022. (Photo by Patricia De Melo MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
A firefighter tackles a forest fire around the village of Eiriz in Baiao, northern Portugal. (Getty)
ALBERGARIA A VELHA, PORTUGAL - JULY 13: A worker runs away when a forest fire that has hit the lumber factory where he works on July 13, 2022 in Albergaria a Velha, Portugal. Wildfires have swept across the central part of the country amid temperatures exceeding 40 degrees celsius. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
A worker runs away from a forest fire that hit a lumber factory in Portugal. (Getty)
TOPSHOT - A firefighter aircraft Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss drops water in a wildfire near Bustelo, east of Amarante, north of Portugal, on July 16, 2022. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
A firefighter aircraft Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss drops water over a wildfire near Bustelo, east of Amarante, Portugal. (Getty)
Villagers watch the progression of a wildfire at Eiriz in Baiao, north of Portugal, on July 15, 2022. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Villagers watch the progression of a wildfire at Eiriz in Baiao, Portugal as many are evacuated from their homes. (Getty)

National emergencies

The UK, Belgium and Germany are among the countries expecting the heatwave to hit them in coming days.

The UK was on course for its hottest day on record on Monday with temperatures forecast to hit 40C (104F) for the first time, forcing train companies to cancel services, schools to close early and ministers to urge the public to stay at home.

After the Met Office issued a red weather warning alert, the UK government triggered a "national emergency" as temperatures were forecast to surpass the 38.7C (102F) recorded in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in 2019 on Monday and Tuesday.

MARGATE, ENGLAND - JULY 16: People enjoy the hot weather at Margate beach on July 16, 2022 in Margate, United Kingdom. Britain is experiencing a heatwave this week as temperatures in some parts are expected to reach between 37c and 40c. A level 3 heat health alert has been issued for the south and eastern parts of England, rising to level 4 by Monday. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Britain is in the midst of a heatwave, with temperatures in some parts of the country expected to reach between 37C and 40C. (Getty)

Dr Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said the soaring temperatures were evidence of global warming. He said: "We hoped we wouldn't get to this situation but for the first time ever we are forecasting greater than 40C in the UK.

"Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chances of seeing 40C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence."

Droughts and wildfires in France

In France, wildfires had spread over 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the southwestern region of Gironde, and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated, regional authorities said on Sunday afternoon.

More than 1,200 firefighters were trying to control the blazes, the authorities said in a statement.

TOPSHOT - An aerial view shows boats in the dry bed of Brenets Lake (Lac des Brenets), part of the Doubs River, a natural border between eastern France and western Switzerland, in Les Brenets on July 18, 2022. - The river has dried up due to  a combination of factors, including geological faults that drain the river, decreased rainfall and heat waves. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
The dry bed of Brenets Lake in France. (Getty)
A photograph shows the parched river bed of the Gardon near the Saint-Nicolas de Campagnac bridge in Saint-Anastasie, southern France, after a heat wave hit France, on June 20, 2022. - The heat wave is gradually ending on June 20, 2022 in France, and a new wave of thunderstorms will arrive in the evening on the Atlantic coast and the Centre-Val-de-Loire, predicted Meteo France, which has placed 21 departments under orange storm watch. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP) (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images)
The parched river bed of the Gardon near the Saint-Nicolas de Campagnac bridge in Sainte-Anastasie, southern France, as a heatwave sweeps Europe. (Getty)
A photo shows a forest fire in Louchats, south-western France, on July 17, 2022. (Photo by THIBAUD MORITZ / AFP) (Photo by THIBAUD MORITZ/AFP via Getty Images)
As rivers dry up, forest fires rage in Louchats, south-western France. (Getty)
Forest fire in Landiras, France, on July 16, 2022. -Hundreds people were evacuated from their homes as wildfires continued to rage out of control in southwestern France, authorities said on Friday.  (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as wildfires continued to rage out of control in south-western France, authorities said. (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

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France issued red alerts, the highest possible, for several regions, with residents urged "to be extremely vigilant".

Fires in Italy

In Italy, where smaller fires have blazed in recent days, forecasters expect temperatures above 40C in several regions over coming days.

ROME, ITALY - JULY 09: The cloud of black smoke from a large fire covers the Cinecittà district on July 9, 2022 in Rome, Italy. Fire broke out near Centocelle archaeological park, in eastern Rome, then set fire to the warehouses of car wreckers. The cloud is said to be toxic and the authorities are asking people not to approach the area.(Photo by Stefano Montesi - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
A cloud of black smoke from covers the Cinecittà district in Rome after fire broke out near Centocelle archaeological park, then spread to a car warehouse. (Getty)
Rome, images from the drone of the Aurelio and Casalotti districts area, affected by the maxi fire. In the photo the garaging with completely burnt campers. (Photo by: Alessandro Serrano'/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Drone footage shows the debris left behind after a wildfire spread to the car garage near Rome. (Getty)

Swiss droughts

Switzerland also suffered the effects of the heatwave. Axpo, the operator of the Beznau nuclear plant, said it on Monday it was forced to reduce output so that it does not overheat the Aare river from which it draws its cooling water.

An aerial view shows the dry bed of Brenets Lake (Lac des Brenets), part of the Doubs River, a natural border between eastern France and western Switzerland, in Les Brenets on July 18, 2022. - The river has dried up due to  a combination of factors, including geological faults that drain the river, decreased rainfall and heat waves. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
The Doubs River between western Switzerland and eastern France has dried out in recent weeks as a result of the drought. (Getty)
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