A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with France, Belgium and Germany likely to experience extreme temperatures in the coming days.
French national weather agency Meteo-France predicted the hot weather could produce temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), while German agencies suggested the heat would break records.
"It's unprecedented because it's hitting so early, in June. We haven't seen this since 1947," said Emmanuel Demael from the French meteorological agency on Monday.
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'We must be vigilant': Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged for people to be extra vigilant in the coming days.
"As you know, at times like these, sick people, pregnant women, infants and elderly people are the most vulnerable. So we must be vigilant with them and have prevention measures in place in order to intervene as quickly as possible," he said.
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Monday that France was well prepared, but added that people still needed to be wary. "When people are fragile, even when everything is organized, there's always a higher mortality rate," she said.
In Germany, meanwhile, temperatures are expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, topping the country's previous June record of 38.2 degrees Celsius (nearly 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit) set in Frankfurt in 1947.
Forest fires are also of grave concern for authorities in Germany, particularly in the northeast. Services in Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, are expecting a busy week ahead.
Heat waves on the increase
Scientists say heat waves of this magnitude are on the increase in Europe, further evidence that the Earth's climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said "monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate."
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"This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas," he added.
jsi/cmk (AP, dpa)
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