Heat-related deaths top 1,100 in Spain and Portugal amid heatwave and wildfires


While Western Europe is experiencing a record heatwave, Spain and Portugal have reported at least 1,169 heat-related deaths, according to each country’s health ministry.

At least 510 people died of heat-related problems in Spain between July 10 and July 18, the country’s health ministry said. Of those deaths, 273 were recorded on Friday, officials said. Another 659 heat-related deaths were recorded in Portugal between July 7 and July 17, local officials said.

Thousands of firefighters were struggling to contain wildfires in France, Spain and Portugal that have destroyed thousands of hectares of land. The fires have forced thousands of people to evacuate to safety as extreme heat grips the region.

In the south of France, more than 14,000 people were forced to flee as the fires spread to more than 27,180 acres of land. On Sunday, the country‘s Interior Ministry also issued red heat wave alerts for 15 French departments and orange alerts for 51 departments.

France hit a high of 40.8 degrees Celsius — 105.44 degrees Fahrenheit — on Sunday. Temperatures remained high on Monday and Tuesday, but are expected to drop by Wednesday.

The number of people who have died from heat-related deaths is unknown, but the French Ministry of Health told ABC News that information on the number of victims will be released at the end of the month.

A woman watches forest fires progress near a residential area in Alhaurin de la Torre, Malaga, Spain, July 16, 2022.

Gregorio Marrero/AP

Spanish firefighters were battling 30 active blazes, mostly in Castile and Leon, Galicia and Andalusia, the Interior Ministry and Catalan authorities said.

Temperatures on Sunday are expected to hit 42C (107.6F) in three provinces across the country, prompting the state weather agency to issue “extreme hazard” alerts.

In Mijas, Spain, in the municipality of Malaga, 3,000 people fled because of the fires. More than 22,000 acres of land are at risk of being burned in the province of Mijas as firefighters struggle to contain the flames.

Wildfires are occurring earlier in the season, ending later and becoming more frequent due to climate change, the European Union said in a report last year.

PHOTO: Firefighters work against a forest fire near Landiras, in southwestern France, on July 16, 2022.

Firefighters work against a forest fire near Landiras, in southwestern France, on July 16, 2022.

SDIS 33 via access point

“Climate change is making the situation worse, making countries more prone to wildfires and increasing the intensity of these events,” the report said.

Sweltering heat is also expected to grip other parts of Europe in the coming days. Parts of England are expected to reach 40 C (104 F) on Tuesday.

The British government has issued a national emergency and warned people not to leave their homes unless necessary, according to the Associated Press.

“This year, for the first time, we have launched an emergency response to severe summer weather,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

ABC News’ Aicha El Hammar Castano contributed to this report.


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