Scientists warn of record-breaking temperatures

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 15:01

“Record-breaking temperatures” in parts of Europe may have contributed to the deadly forest fire in Portugal and a heat wave currently gripping parts of France, scientists said on Tuesday.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Senior Scientist Omar Baddour said other regions had also experienced soaring heat.

"Parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States of America have seen record-breaking May and June temperatures," he said.

Warning about heatwaves and high temperatures in European countries, Baddour said the second highest alert for heat continued to be in place in Portugal and France where the exceptional highs are expected to continue until Friday.

"Extremely high temperatures of around 40C contributed to the severity of the disastrous wildfire in Portugal which claimed dozens of lives," Baddour added.

The forest fire claimed 61 lives in Portugal's Pedrogao Grande area, a municipality about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the capital Lisbon.

More than 1,500 firefighters battled the fire which spread rapidly due to high temperatures and strong winds.

Five municipalities in Portugal are at maximum fire risk and 58 at very high risk, Baddour added.