'Worst is still to come': Sizzling Europe battles wildfires, health risks
Updated : 2019-06-28 10:35:36
Wildfires raged across Catalonia and French authorities stepped up restrictions on water use and driving in cities as swathes of western Europe remained in the grip of an intense heatwave. Temperatures climbed towards 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of northern Spain and southern France, driving many people to seek relief in the sea, rivers, lakes, fountains and swimming pools. Spanish firefighters struggled to douse wildfires across more than 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) in the northeastern region of Catalonia, and said the affected area could increase as much as fivefold because of the fierce heat and winds. Helicopters dumped water on the fires, which raged some 80 km (50 miles) inland from the coastal town of Tarragona. There were no reports of casualties, but the regional government said some 45 people had been evacuated from farmhouses in the area. The wildfires are among the worst Catalonia has seen in 20 years, the regional government said, and residents were warned to stay inside to avoid inhaling smoke. In neighbouring France to the north, authorities extended restrictions on vehicles, already imposed in Paris and Lyon, to Marseille and Strasbourg in an effort to curb air pollution. Paris banned more than half of the cars - generally older, dirtier models - registered in the capital region, which has nearly six million inhabitants, while the heatwave lasts. Several cities reduced speed limits to reduce car emissions.