Mercury soars across Europe
Europe baked Saturday in scorching summer temperatures, as authorities warned of the danger to the very young and old and linked a number of deaths to the heatwave.
In Spain, officials said three people had died as a result of the weather including a 24-year-old man.
Warm weather alerts were in place in seven regions of central and southern Spain with temperatures of up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit), said the national meteorological agency Aemet. Temperatures were expected to start to drop on Sunday and Monday.
The heat eased slightly in Paris on Saturday where the temperature was recorded at 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit) at 1500 GMT, down from 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) 24 hours earlier on Friday.
But although an orange alert was lifted for the capital and three other departments nationwide, they would stay in place overnight for four others in central and eastern France, said the French national meteorological service, Meteo France.
The heatwave in those areas was also expected to be over by early Sunday.
"The spell of high temperatures that started on Thursday is coming to its end," Meteo France said in a bulletin.
Britain's highest temperature of the year -- 31.7 degrees Celsius (89.1 degrees Fahrenheit) -- was recorded at Gravesend in southeastern England on Friday.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the daytime heat and the fact that temperatures remained high at night -- around 20 degrees Celsius -- posed health risks to the elderly and very young children.
The agency also said there had been "several hundred" more deaths than normal over the past two weeks and some appeared to be linked to the heat.
"Although these are very preliminary data, their experts suggest that the hot weather may have been the cause for some of the increase," an HPA spokesman said.
The Met Office's heat warning stood at level two on its four level warning scale. Britain has experienced the driest first six months of the year since 1953.
However, the dryness did not extend across Britain. Heavy rain fell on northern England and Scotland on Friday and Saturday.
In Belgium several towns faced water shortages caused by the hot weather.
Bullange in eastern Belgium has seen several sources dry up and risks a critical situation if there is no rain by the end of next week, the Belga agency quoted mayor Friedhelm Wirtz as saying.
Water was being tankered in an attempt to compensate for the shortages.
On Friday, three other southeastern communes -- Chiny, Bellevaux and Hastiere -- each appealed to the disaster and emergency services for water supplies, the interior ministry added.
© 2010 AFP