An unyielding heat wave gripping parts of Europe in the first week of August has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, causing at least two deaths and prompting authorities to issue severe weather warnings.
The heat wave nicknamed “Lucifer” carpeted southern and eastern Europe where temperatures remained above 44 degrees Celsius, approaching 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
The extreme heat produced “red” warnings for 10 countries, including Albania, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, and parts of Spain, France and Italy. The heat spell has brought the highest temps to most of these countries in more than a decade.
"It is just too much," AP quoted real estate agent Sasa Jovanovic, 52as saying during an early morning walk in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, where the temperature was forecast to hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturday. "Sometimes it feels as if I cannot breathe."
The extreme heat stifling the different parts of Europe has fueled wildfires, damaged crops and strained energy and water supplies. Authorities in some areas issued traffic restrictions and banned outdoor work during the hottest part of the day.
For instance, the public health institute in Belgrade issued heat instructions, telling people to keep wet towels on windows if there is no air conditioning, and avoid physical strain and alcohol. Although southern Europe is used to scorching summers, meteorologists have warned that hot spells lasting several days aren't that common.
Moreover, in Croatia, health authorities have reported a surge in emergency calls over the past week. They appealed to the thousands of tourists vacationing along the country's Adriatic coast to be careful on the beaches and while traveling.
In Romania, police banned heavy traffic on major roads in daylight hours during the weekend because of the heat wave, while trains slowed down. A train service in southern Serbia also was delayed earlier this week after tracks buckled in the heat.
Romania reported two heat-related deaths — a 45-year-old man collapsed and died Friday while working in a field in the northeast, while a 60-year-old man died of a heart attack in the street in an eastern port Thursday.
Some 15 wildfires have been reported in Albania, and dozens of others throughout the region. Hot and dry weather has scorched crops amid fears of water shortages in Italy and Serbia as authorities appealed for care in consumption.
In the Alpine nation of Slovenia, authorities reported earlier this week the first-ever "tropical night" at 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) in the mountains, meaning temperatures were higher than 20 C (68 F) during the night.
Thousands of residents sought refuge from the heat at the city's recreation area, swimming in the local lake and the Danube or the Sava rivers. Some of those who ventured to the city center dipped their feet or wet their hair in the fountains.
Western and northern Europe, in contrast, was experiencing colder and wetter weather.