European heat wave kills hundreds and threatens tourism recovery

Extreme temperatures and devastating droughts across Europe are rapidly turning what was supposed to finally be a return to normalcy for tourist entities in the region into hell.

More than 360 people have died in Spain since July 10 in a historic heatwave that saw temperatures hover around 115 degrees for several days in a row. At least 84 of the deaths have occurred in the past 72 hours, prompting the Spanish government to urge people to limit heat exposure and ban certain tourist activities like guided walks in Barcelona during midday hours .

At Madrid Zoo, several cold-water reptiles have perished and zookeepers are giving popsicles to many of the creatures who refuse to eat due to the extreme conditions which are not expected to stop until the end of the month. Spain already suffered a heat wave at the start of the summer with 829 people dying between June 11 and June 20. Temperatures this time should be at least two degrees higher.

In Portugal, more than 235 people have died this month from heat-related causes and temperatures have continued to climb. According to the government, wildfires in the regions have led to the evacuation of several tourist campsites and outdoor recreation areas set aside for the whole summer, throwing the travel industry into chaos.

The Italian government has called a national emergency along the Po River, which runs through northern Italy and is so low that people can cross it in places. The drought has also led to extreme water restrictions, including turning off ornamental fountains in Milan and preventing hairdressers from double-shampooing to save water. In southern Italy, droughts have sparked wildfires, including several devastating blazes within the city limits of Rome in the past two weeks.

In the UK, where summers are often disappointingly gray and air conditioning is scarce, people have been told to avoid alcohol and stay indoors over the weekend as temperatures there are set at 104 degrees. The Met Office has issued a red warning for London, Manchester and York until Tuesday, warning Britons “are not suited for what’s to come”.

The never-before-used red weather alert signals danger to life or risk of serious illness to the general population due to extreme heat. “Adverse population-wide health effects are likely to be experienced, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, resulting in potential serious illness or life-threatening conditions,” the Met Office in a statement. visiting coastal areas, lakes and rivers, which increases the risk of water safety incidents.

Fires are also raging in the south of France and the Greek islands, complicating travel and isolating some of the region’s most popular summer getaway spots.

National weather agencies in the affected region are warning that it could be another week before temperatures start to return to normal.

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