A wildfire in Algeria has killed 34 people and forced the evacuation of thousands of tourists from the Greek island of Rhodes.
Another fire temporarily closed Palermo airport on the southern Italian island of Sicily on Tuesday, while an overnight storm tore off roofs and downed trees in the north of the country, killing two people. Extreme weather wreaked havoc across the planet throughout July, with temperatures breaking records in China, the US and southern Europe, with wildfires, water shortages and a rise in heat-related hospital admissions.
Without man-made climate change, this month’s events would have occurred “extremely rarely,” according to a study by World Weather Attribution, a global group of scientists that examines the role of climate change in extreme weather. The heat, with temperatures topping 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), is hotter than usual, attracting tourists who flock to southern European beaches.
In parts of eastern Sicily, temperatures soared to 47.6 Celsius on Monday, close to the record European high of 48.8 Celsius set on the island two years ago. It was even hotter in North Africa, with some cities in Tunisia recording temperatures of 49 Celsius.
Neighboring Algeria has deployed nearly 8,000 firefighters to help contain the deadly blaze, officials said. Mass evacuation
Fires that have been burning on the island of Rhodes for the past week have forced Greek authorities to carry out the country’s biggest-ever evacuation, with more than 20,000 people forced to leave their homes and hotels. “I will state the obvious: in the situation facing the entire planet, especially the Mediterranean, a hotbed of climate change, there is no magic defense mechanism, if there was we would implement it,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.
The tourism industry, a mainstay of the Greek economy, will be hit hard by the fire. It accounts for 18% of Greece’s GDP and a fifth of its employment, with islands such as Rhodes relying heavily on tourism. “It’s very bad, the situation. We need help. Send us help from everywhere,” said Lanai Karpataki, a local resident of Kiotari, south of Rhodes.
Malta, another major Mediterranean holiday destination, suffered nationwide power outages after a week of heatwaves hit its largest hospital. ‘Silent Killer’
Scientists have described extreme heat as a “silent killer” that takes a heavy toll on the poor, the elderly and those with existing health conditions. As many as 61,000 people may have died in Europe’s extreme heat last summer, according to research published this month, suggesting countries’ heat preparedness efforts are falling fatally short.
Scientists at World Weather attribution said the heat caused widespread crop and livestock damage, with US corn and soybean crops, Mexican livestock, southern European olives and Chinese cotton all hit hard. Responding to storm damage in Milan, the mayor of Italy’s financial capital said the cause was clear.
“I’ve been through 65 summers in my lifetime… What I’m seeing now is not normal, we can’t deny it anymore, climate change is changing our lives,” Mayor Giuseppe Sala said on social media.
(This story has not been edited by DavidDiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)