Roads Melt In Worst
European Killer Heatwave
In Living Memory
By Alex Todorovic - Belgrade
Meteorologists have warned that there is no end in sight to a heatwave that has ravaged southeastern Europe from Greece and Turkey to Croatia, leaving scores of people dead.
Temperatures soaring to more than 45C (113F) have sparked hundreds of forest fires, while trucks sinking into molten roads have brought traffic to a standstill and caused millions of pounds of damage in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. Excessive use of air conditioners has overloaded the Greek national grid.
Many in the region say it is the worst heat in living memory. "It certainly looks that way," agreed Vesna Ninkovic, of the Serbian meteorology institute. June was Serbia's hottest on record.
Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, has recorded 39.9C (103F), the highest temperature in 112 years. Belgrade was 40.5C (104.5F) on Tuesday, approaching the 41.8C (107F) set in August 1921.
In Croatia, more than 40 people, mostly elderly, succumbed to heart attacks and other heat-related hazards in three days. In Romania farmers working in the fields in Dolj, 140 miles west of Bucharest, were reported to have died from dehydration. Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Bosnia also recorded heat-related deaths.
In southeastern Turkey, a hospital said it was receiving more than 100 people a day, a scene repeated across the Balkans. "We're barely managing to cover all the calls," said Zeljko Skukan, an emergency ward doctor in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.
In Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, army helicopters were brought in to battle forest fires, and in Bosnia the Nato-led stabilisation force, Sfor, helped civilian firemen.
Athens set a new consumption record of 8,300 megawatts of electricity on Thursday, triggering a huge power cut, and in Romania a nuclear power plant was shut after high temperatures triggered emergency sprinklers. Much of the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade was without water for three days. Croatia expects crop yields to be 70% down on last year.
Meteorologists had little reason for cheer. The high pressure system that has trapped hot air flowing up from the Sahara desert and the Middle East is set to stay, hemmed in by a more northerly cold front.
This Site Served by TheHostPros