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'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.

A smoke column is seen during a forest fire near La Granadella, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A smoke column is seen during a forest fire near La Granadella, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Trees burn during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Trees burn during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Firefighters work to put out a forest fire along a road near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Firefighters work to put out a forest fire along a road near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Farmers with their tractors travel down a road to set up firewalls and remove dry plants during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Farmers with their tractors travel down a road to set up firewalls and remove dry plants during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Trees burn during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Trees burn during a forest fire near Maials, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A helicopter reloads water during a forest fire near Bovera, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
A helicopter reloads water during a forest fire near Bovera, west of Tarragona, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Children play in a fountain on a hot summer day in Cologne, Germany, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
Children play in a fountain on a hot summer day in Cologne, Germany, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
A girl plays in a fountain on a hot summer day in Cologne, Germany, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
A girl plays in a fountain on a hot summer day in Cologne, Germany, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
People cool off on the Miroir d'Eau (Mirror of Water), a public art piece on the quay of the Garonne river as France prepares to swelter in record high June temperatures, in Bordeaux, France June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
People cool off on the Miroir d'Eau (Mirror of Water), a public art piece on the quay of the Garonne river as France prepares to swelter in record high June temperatures, in Bordeaux, France June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
People cool off in a fountain in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People cool off in a fountain in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A man tries to cool himself with a fan in central Madrid, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina
A man tries to cool himself with a fan in central Madrid, Spain, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina
People cool off in the sea in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People cool off in the sea in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
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