France on heatwave alert as temperatures rise

23rd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 22 (AFP) - France was on a heatwave alert on Wednesday as the government released its new emergency plan to avoid a repeat of the nearly 15,000 deaths attributed to the scorching temperatures of summer 2003.

PARIS, June 22 (AFP) - France was on a heatwave alert on Wednesday as the government released its new emergency plan to avoid a repeat of the nearly 15,000 deaths attributed to the scorching temperatures of summer 2003.

As the mercury climbed above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) in parts of France during the past two days, Health Minister Xavier Bertrand on Wednesday released the new heatwave plan including measures to bolster emergency services and to care for elderly people living on their own.

The plan also released an extra EUR 26 million for supplementary hours for nurses working in people's homes and to recruit temporary staff in retirement homes.

The minister has put in place a level three heatwave alert, under the four level emergency plan, in the central eastern Rhone region and level two in seven other regions of the country.

French meteorologists have warned there is a probability of a hot summer this year with temperatures predicted to be on average two degrees above normal.

An estimated 30,000 people died in Europe during the 2003 heatwave with 14,847 deaths in France, the majority elderly, between the August 4 and 18.

During the heatwave temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) during the day and remained high during the evenings.

Emergency services were overwhelmed during the disaster, forced to leave dying patients on stretchers in the corridors of hospitals.

Funeral parlours could also not cope, particularly in the Paris region where bodies had to be stored in refrigerated trucks.

There was a subsequent public outcry about the government's slow response to the disaster.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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