ROME, July 18 (Reuters) – Large swathes of southern and eastern Europe were placed on heatwave red alert on Tuesday and the World Meteorological Organization warned of an increased risk of deaths as extreme weather gripped the continent, Asia and the United States.
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia could see highs of more than 47 Celsius (116 Fahrenheit) and forecasters said temperatures could hit 40 degrees in several Italian cities, including 42-43 degrees in the Lazio region that includes Rome.
With baking temperatures hitting Europe during the peak summer tourist season, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the heatwave in the northern hemisphere was set to intensify. An estimated 61,000 people may have died in heatwaves last year in Europe alone.
The EU’s emergency response coordination centre issued red alerts for high temperatures for most of Italy, northeastern Spain, Croatia, Serbia, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
Heatwaves this summer, which saw temperatures climb to 53 degrees in California’s Death Valley and over 52 degrees in China’s northwest, have coincided with wildfires from Greece to the Swiss Alps and deadly flooding in India and South Korea.