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Italy’s fire service tackles over 800 wildfires in 24 hours as temperatures soar

Italy's fire brigade recorded hundreds of incidents this weekend, mainly in the south, as red alerts were issued for high temperatures on Sunday.

Italy's fire service tackles over 800 wildfires in 24 hours as temperatures soar
Photo: Vigili del Fuoco (Italian fire brigade)

“In the last 24 hours, firefighters have carried out more than 800 interventions: 250 in Sicily, 130 in Puglia and Calabria, 90 in Lazio and 70 in Campania,” the brigade tweeted.

It said firefighters were still working against blazes in the Sicilian cities of Catania, Palermo and Syracuse.

Italy’s entire fleet of 15 Canadair water-carrying planes was working to put out the blazes on Sunday, the fire brigade tweeted.

On Friday, 150 people were trapped by fires in two seaside areas of the port city of Catania before being evacuated by sea by the coast guard, according to Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

The area’s airport also closed temporarily to give priority to air rescue and firefighting missions.

This came after more than 20,000 hectares of forest, olive groves and crops were destroyed by a blaze in Sardinia last weekend.

On Sunday many areas baked in temperatures above 40 degrees, with the Italian health ministry issuing red alerts for the cities of Palermo, Bari, Catania, Campobasso, Frosinone, Pescara, Trieste and Perugia.

READ ALSO: ‘A disaster without precedent’: Sardinia wildfires ravage west of Italian island

While the south of Italy has been burning, the north has suffered wild storms.

“The cost of the damage caused throughout the northern Italian countryside by the violent storms and hail during this crazy summer amounts to tens of millions of euros,” the Coldiretti agricultural organisation said.

In Spain, meanwhile, dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling a wildfire that broke out Saturday afternoon near the San Juan reservoir, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) east of Madrid.

Firefighters said Sunday they had managed to stabilise the blaze overnight but local authorities urged people to stay away from the reservoir, a popular bathing spot for residents of the Spanish capital.

READ ALSO: What to do and what to avoid if you see a wildfire in Italy

Fires have also been raging across other parts of southern Europe, including Greece and tourist hotspots in southern Turkey, where wildfires have claimed eight lives.

Fanned by soaring temperatures, strong winds and climate change — which experts say increases both the frequency and intensity of such blazes — this year’s fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average, EU data shows.

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WEATHER

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

Temperatures are set to rise dramatically across Italy this weekend as the country prepares for its first real heatwave of the year, meteorologists said on Friday.

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

People across Italy are preparing to head to the beach this weekend with unseasonably hot weather predicted to last for several days.

The heatwave is caused by an anticyclone named  ‘Hannibal’ sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria, bringing hot air currents across the Mediterranean and as far north as Denmark and Poland, reports news agency Ansa.

Temperatures are forecast to rise above 32-33°C in parts of the Italian north including Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna, before the heatwave expands towards the centre and south of the country over the course of the weekend.

The weather is already 8°C above the seasonal average for this time of year, according to Antonio Sanò, founder of the Italian weather site IlMeteo.it, and temperatures could rise by as much as 10°C.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

In a typical year these kinds of highs wouldn’t be seen until July, Sanò said.

The incoming heatwave will be particularly humid as the anticyclone is carrying moisture from the Mediterranean sea, according to IlMeteo.

However, the relative cool of the Mediterranean basin at this time of year will contain the heat and keep the temperatures from rising into the high 30s, as would happen if the same type of weather event occurred in August.

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

The heatwave will stretch over the weekend and continue into next week, peaking on Tuesday, according to weather reports.

Patchy thunderstorms typical of midsummer weather are anticipated in the Alps and the Po Valley, while the centre-south is set to experience hot and sunny conditions bar some isolated storms in the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday.

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