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Portugal battles wildfire at peak of heatwave

2018-08-05 06:12
More than 740 firefighters battled a forest fire in southern Portugal on Saturday (August 4) as temperatures climbed to near record highs in the Iberian Peninsula amid a Europe-wide heatwave that has brought drought and wildfires from Greece to Sweden. The blaze began on Saturday in the hilly Monchique area of the southern Algarve region, popular with tourists. Authorities evacuated two villages in the area and 10 water-carrying aircraft were being used to fight the flames. Hot air from North Africa has caused the most severe heatwave in Iberia since 2003, one of the worst years on record for forest fires. Seeking to prevent more deaths after 114 people were killed in two massive forest blazes last year in Portugal, civil protection sent mobile text alerts warning the population of an extreme risk of fires in some regions, including around the capital Lisbon. In Greece, a wildfire killed 91 people last month Temperatures in Spain and Portugal will remain above 40C at least until Sunday (August 5), with the IPMA weather service expecting 47C in Santarem in central Portugal later on Saturday, just below Europe's record high of 48C, set in Athens in 1977. Reuters