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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Spain & Portugal Report More than 1,700 Heat-Related Deaths


Tue 19 Jul 2022 | 10:23 PM
H-Tayea

Portugal and Spain reported more than 1,700 deaths over the past week as an unprecedented heat wave moves through Europe.

The ongoing heat wave could last a total of several weeks and has been accompanied by wildfires in France, Spain and Portugal, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

“Portugal and Spain are among of the areas of the globe that could be more affected by extreme heat,” Graça Freitas, head of health authority DGS, said on Tuesday. “We have to be more and more prepared for periods of high temperatures.”

Temperatures across drought-stricken Portugal surpassed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) last week. Although they have dropped in the last few days, Freitas said they remained above normal levels for this time of the year.

DGS previously reported 238 excess deaths due to the heat wave from July 7 to 13, but Freitas said the number of fatalities has now increased to 1,063 for the period up to July 18.

High temperatures, the ongoing drought and poor forest management have been blamed for several wildfires sweeping across Portugal. Firefighters also are combating blazes in other southern European nations, including in Spain.

Carlos Antunes, a researcher at Lisbon University’s faculty of sciences, said in an interview that the data showed those most likely to die due to heat waves were elderly people.

He said the number of deaths in the future will depend, among other things, on the preventive measures people adopt to protect themselves, how care homes tend to their residents and the adaptation of infrastructures.