Heat wave hits Europe

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

Forest fires light up the nigh (Credit: REUTERS) A severe heat wave has hit most parts of central and southeastern Europe causing deaths, forest fires and damaging crops. Countries like Romania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary are reeling under the heat. In Greece, where temperatures reached 39c on July 19, 115 cases of fires within a span of 24-hours were reported. Villages near the city of Corinth had been evacuated after a fire reached inhabited areas and destroyed at least 10 houses. A major highway had to be closed down and a children's home evacuated in Athens that was engulfed in smoke. Forest fires in the country also destroyed large tracts of forest on the Aegean islands of Skiathos and Lesvos.

Fire also raged over Mount Parintha for five days provoking warnings from conservationists. European Union environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, described the Parnitha blaze as "a massive ecological disaster". Earlier this month, the residents of Athens rallied outside the country's parliament to protest against the failure of the authorities to avert environmental damage.

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