DEATHS FEARED IN EUROPE HEATWAVE
July 19, 2006; Posted: 2:22 p.m. EDT (18:22 GMT)
England (Reuters) -- European governments scrambled to save lives in record high temperatures on Wednesday to avoid a repeat
of the catastrophic heatwave of 2003 that killed 15,000 people in France and 2,000 in Britain.
In Britain, temperatures hit an
all-time high for the month of July, touching 36.3 degrees Centigrade (97.34 Fahrenheit) south of London to edge out the previous record set in 1911.
Germany's national meteorological service said July was on the way to being
the hottest since records began in many parts of the country.
an 85-year-old man admitted to hospital and an 81-year-old woman found dead in her home were the first people believed to
have died there because of the heat. Officials said nine people were believed to have died.
"We must be vigilant and still more vigilant," said French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand.
"And pay more attention to the vulnerable and those who live alone."
Britain launched an emergency plan of extra visits to the elderly and vulnerable.
British bookmakers stopped taking bets temperatures would soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
(37.77C) for only the second time -- the first was in August 2003.
The searing heat and expected storms later in the week threatened to damage northern
Europe's wheat crop just days before the harvest, especially hitting Germany and France.
Electricity grids were straining. In Britain
the national grid warned that blackouts could be possible because of increased demand from air conditioners.
France's main electricity provider EDF said it had to buy power abroad.
Not only did demand rise, but the company had to curtail production to maintain safety at nuclear power plants cooled by river
The mayor of Paris
announced free residential parking and advised people to avoid motorized transport to reduce the danger of ozone pollution.
t Buckingham Palace, officials laid on extra water for 8,000 guests at a garden party for military
veterans after several guests at a similar palace event fainted on Tuesday.
"There is shade for them, all the marquees are used, there's lots of helpers on hand
for any guests who may feel unwell," a palace spokesman said.
The House of Commons issued a special "shirt-sleeve order" allowing journalists covering
Britain's parliament to break with convention
and enter the chamber without a jacket.
In the Netherlands,
organizers cancelled a four-day walking event after two participants died of the heat on Tuesday. Firefighters handed out
water to drivers stuck in traffic jams.
Police said a 14-year-old boy in central England
drowned in a canal after he jumped in to cool off.
In Ireland, firefighters battled
a gorse blaze close to a beach south of Dublin on Tuesday
after temperatures pushed above 30 degrees Centigrade for the first time in more than a decade.
Newspapers tried to help people cool off. Germany's
biggest-selling daily Bild published a list of the coolest places in Berlin,
including the fish counter at the Karstadt department store and the penguin house at the zoo.