- Title: VARIOUS: People struggle to stay cool as heatwave hits Europe
- Date: 20th July 2006
- Summary: INTERIOR MAIN HALL/ OLD PEOPLE SEATED WITH ELECTRIC FAN WORKING
- Embargoed: 4th August 2006 13:00
- Topics: Weather
- Reuters ID: LVAC1ERA0VDZISP4ZRAQ67RPUZF2
- Story Text: People did whatever they could to stay cool on Wednesday (July 19) as temperatures soared across Europe.
In Britain, temperatures hit a record high for July in Charlwood, near Gatwick Airport, the Met Office said in a statement.
The mercury soared to 36.3 degrees Centigrade (97.34 Fahrenheit), compared with the previous record of 36 degrees set in 1911.
Electricity grids were straining to meet demand. In Britain the national grid warned that blackouts could be possible because of overuse caused by air conditioners. Imports of electricity from France were impossible because it needed all its own power.
Zookeepers at the London Zoo did their best to keep the animals cool, spraying them with water.
But some people clearly enjoyed the hot weather, sunbaking in parks around the British capital.
In the southern German town of Munich, visitors to the city's many beer gardens enjoyed a traditional "Mass," a one litre mug of beer.
In the Eisbach (ice river), daredevil surfers enjoyed a short ride on the waves.
Germany's national meteorological service (DWD) said July was on the way to being the hottest since records began in many parts of the country, with average temperatures even higher than the sweltering summer of 1994.
According to DWD, this July has been between three and five degrees hotter, sometimes even more, than the long-term average.
The heatwave has sparked a series of health warnings over fears for the safety of elderly and vulnerable people.
A Health Ministry official in France said on Wednesday that the sweltering temperatures had probably caused the deaths of nine people since the start of the week.
Most of the nine deaths this week were registered in the southwest of France, where the temperature almost reached 40C (104.00F).
Authorities are hoping to avoid a repeat of the hot weather in 2003 that killed 15,000 people in France and 2,000 in Britain.
Pensioners at a nursery home at the Rothschild Foundation in Paris were feeling the heat. Every morning carers close the shutters, switch on the fans and encourage the elderly residents to drink as much as possible.
Weather forecasters say temperatures should fall in the coming hours as thunderstorms start to sweep much of France.
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