Europe Also Feels Record Heat Wave
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
LONDON — Lions licked blood-flavored ice blocks in the zoo, judges went wigless in court, and guards at Buckingham Palace ducked into the shade.
Britain yesterday faced the hottest day ever recorded in July as a heat wave swept much of Europe. Temperatures hit 96.6 degrees south of London — so hot some road surfaces melted.
Two people died in Spain as temperatures climbed above 104 degrees, while officials in France said as many as nine people who died recently were believed to be victims of the heat.
But with its aging buildings and infrequent brushes with sweltering temperatures, Britain was particularly ill-equipped for the heat wave.
London’s Underground has no air conditioning and the Evening Standard newspaper measured temperatures in the train system at 117 degrees. Operator Transport for London takes no measurements but did not dispute the figure.
“I don’t even want to talk about it,” said Jean Thurgood of east London, fanning herself frantically on a stuffy bus. “It feels like the hottest day of the century.”
Construction workers in northwest England, meanwhile, dumped crushed rocks on highways because the liquifying pavement was sticking to vehicles, Cumbria’s county council said.
Across Europe, health officials warned people to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.
In France, several days of dry heat and high temperatures — which reached 97 degrees in Paris yesterday and 102 degrees in Bordeaux a day earlier — recalled a heat wave in 2003, when 15,000 people died from dehydration and heat-related disorders. Many were elderly and were in some cases left alone while families vacationed.
Since then, France’s government has adopted measures to avoid a repeat of the disaster. Yesterday, Health Minister Xavier Bertrand and Prime Minister de Villepin visited a retirement home to check on the prevention plan.
In Paris, heat-busters included four giant humidifiers placed around the Eiffel Tower, one at each foot, that sprayed passers-by with water vapor as they tried to escape the sun’s punishing rays.
This week’s victims of the heat in France likely included two people in their 80s who died Tuesday in the Bordeaux region, and a 53-year-old construction worker who collapsed in the central city of Macon.
Elsewhere in Europe, temperatures at 4 p.m., when daytime measurements generally peak, registered 95 degrees in Berlin, 93.9 in Brussels, Belgium, and 95.5 in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
In the Netherlands, the Nijmegen 4-Day March was canceled after two participants died in the heat. Some 300 people taking part in the popular walk became ill Tuesday in temperatures that reached 95 degrees, and 30 were hospitalized.