By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Spain endured its warmest day of the year, with temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), officials said.
Italian authorities expanded the number of cities on red alert, saying the heat became a serious health risk.
The hottest temp recorded was in Seville and the surrounding areas, above 46.5 Celsius (115.7 Fahrenheit), just short of Spain’s record in 2017.
In Italy, heat warnings for older and vulnerable people have been given in 16 cities, including Rome, Florence, and several Sicilian towns, which recorded highs in the 40s last week.
The heat came as two new wildfires areas burned uncontrollably outside the Greek capital, Athens, on Monday, forcing nearby villages to evacuate.
The blazes are the latest in a series of over 500 wildfires to break out in Greece that brought the destruction of hundreds of buildings and tens of thousands of acres of land. One volunteer firefighter and an Athens official died due to the fires, and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.
The country’s worst heatwave drove the severity of the wildfires in decades, during which temperatures topped 45° C (113° F).
The Greek government has been criticized for its lackluster response to the fires. It has relied on assistance from the United States, the European Union, and Middle Eastern countries to contain them.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologized on television last week for “any weaknesses that may have occurred” in his government’s response.
The same day, Mitsotakis approved an aid package of 500 million euros ($587 million) to fund reforestation efforts and compensate those who lost homes or property.
Further away, in Russia, a wildfire raging through a Russian forest forced over 830 people to flee from a summer camp in the southern Urals as the flames burned only 1 kilometer (half a mile) away, emergency authorities said.
A total of 750 children and 87 personnel were evacuated from the camp in the Bashkortostan republic, some 1,180 kilometers (730 miles) east of Moscow, Russia’s Emergency Ministry said.
Bashkortostan on Sunday was among five Russian regions most affected by the wildfires. Russia’s aerial forest protection agency, Avialesookhrana, said seven fires were burning in Bashkortostan, covering 1,293 hectares (3,195 acres).
Overall, 246 fires were raging since Sunday in Russia across 4.4 million hectares (10.8 million acres). The Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, is in northeastern Siberia, accounting for the vast majority of them.
The hot weather coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules has caused a growing number of wildfires that authorities say have consumed 15 million acres this year in Russia.
While several scientists link it to climate change, experts also say neglect and lousy forest management are to blame for wildfires in Russia and other nations.
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