Countries in southeast Europe brace for heat wave

Photo: ap A girl walks on the edge of a fountain on a hot day in downtown Skopje, North Macedonia, Wednesday July 28, 2021.

Authorities in several southeast European countries have issued weather warnings before a heat wave in the region expected Thursday that is set to push temperatures to as high as 43 C (109.4 F) in inland areas.

Public health officials in North Macedonia on Wednesday said all six of the country’s administrative regions would be affected by the emergency and urged a pause in construction work and called for municipal-level initiatives to help the elderly and the homeless.

High temperatures are expected through the weekend in North Macedonia and neighboring Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece, as well as parts of Romania and Serbia.

In Albania’s central Dimal region, temperatures reached 42 C (107.6 F) Wednesday.

In the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, municipal workers handed out free bottles of water at several locations in the city. Trucks were sent to water drying out sections of public parks and gardens.

Municipal authorities in Athens this week began providing air-conditioned spaces to the public, and advised residents to remain indoors at midday and the early afternoon.

The Greek capital has also appointed a chief heat officer, becoming the first European capital to do so.

Athens is part of a European network of cities created to combat the effects of high temperatures, alongside Paris, Rotterdam, Glasgow, and Seville.

“We’ve been talking about global warming for decades, but we haven’t talked much about heat,” the new Athens officer, Eleni Myrivili, said following her appointment last week. “I look forward to raising awareness among the citizens of Athens about the grave dangers of extreme heat and helping decision-makers take action to cool the city and protect people and their communities.”

Wildfires raged for a second day in southern Greece, forcing evacuations in a mountainous area outside the western port city of Patras. Smoke from the fire was visible in the center of the city. Forest fires were also reported in Bulgaria and Albania.

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