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Spain issues high alert in heatwave-hit area

MADRID: Several areas of Spain were put on high alert Wednesday as temperatures were set to rise again with parts of western Europe suffering under a second heatwave in a matter of weeks.

Temperatures were set to reach 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) in some parts of Spain, which has been sweltering since the heatwave started at the weekend. It is expected to last until Sunday. France and Portugal were also gripped by heatwaves this week, and forest fires had hit both countries.

Spain’s state meteorological agency Aemet said some parts of the country were “suffocating”, especially the worst affected Andalusia in the south, Extremadura in the southwest and Galicia in the northwest. Those areas were placed on high alert, meaning residents were asked to be cautious and keep a close eye on the weather forecast. Travel was not advised “unless strictly necessary”.

Apart from the Canary islands, all other regions of Spain were placed on lower levels of alert because of the heat. The heat was linked to forest fires that have already burned at least 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) in western Spain near the border with Portugal.

Authorities in Portugal said one person had died in forest fires, after a body was found in a burned area in the northern region of Aveiro. In Spain, nearly 500 residents have been temporarily evacuated due to a fire northwest of Madrid, which firefighters battled to control on Wednesday, regional emergency services said.

Heatwaves have become more frequent due to climate change, scientists say. As global temperatures rise over time, they are expected to become more intense. Spain has already suffered from drought this year, which means water reserves are at just 44 percent of their total capacity, compared to an average of 65 percent over the same period over the past 10 years. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Spain was 47.4 Celsius last August.—AFP

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