Int. Herald Tribune
Heat wave death toll rises to 38 in Europe

James Ron, Alexander Cooley

Paris, Saturday, July 8, 2000

ATHENS - Strong winds and a brief dip in temperatures Friday brought some relief from a heat wave that has scorched southeastern Europe and resulted in at least 38 deaths.

But the dry winds also fanned hundreds of fires, and meteorologists predicted weekend temperatures above 39 degrees centigrade (103 degrees Fahrenheit) in places, with a second wave of hot air heading north from the Sahara.

Hundreds of people around the region have sought medical attention over the past week for respiratory conditions, heatstroke and heart problems.

Temperatures, which for days reached as high as 45 centigrade (113 Fahrenheit) dropped by several degrees in most areas Friday. But there was little change in Turkey, where temperatures continued to hover at around 43 (110) in parts of the country. Seven people, including a German tourist on a yacht in the Mediterranean port town of Kas, reportedly died of heart attacks triggered by the heat Friday, local media said.

To the north in Romania, a nuclear power plant was shut down after the heat inside the building rose and set off sprinklers, a plant statement said Friday. Nobody was injured and the plant was not damaged, the statement said.

Temperatures in Romania have led to 14 deaths and touched off hundreds of fires. The heat receded Friday but was expected to rise steadily again over the weekend.

In Greece, temperatures fell to around 38 (100), but were expected to rise again. Despite the drop, strong, dry winds fueled more than 100 forest and brush fires around the country beginning Thursday.

The largest fire consumed an estimated 1,600 hectares (about 4,000 acres) of forest on the Aegean island of Samos.

The island's airport was shut after flames burned dried grass near it.

Eight firefighting aircraft and two helicopters were battling the blaze in gale-force winds.

Dozens of aircraft and hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and civilian volunteers also battled large blazes on the nearby island of Chios.

Temperatures hovered at around 34 (93) in Italy and were expected to increase Saturday.

Original article