The Latest: Greek fires death toll stands at 92
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Latest on hot weather and wildfires in Europe (all times local):
Greece’s fire department says the death toll from the country’s deadliest forest fire in decades currently stands at 92, including two unidentified bodies which have not been claimed by relatives.
The July 23 fire swept through a seaside resort area northeast of Athens, fanned by gale-force winds that hampered firefighting efforts. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and hundreds of people took refuge on local beaches to escape the blaze. More than 180 people were injured.
Many survivors were forced to swim out to sea to escape the intensity of the fire and smoke, where they spent hours before being rescued by coast guard and private boats. Some drowned.
A judicial investigation into the fire is underway.
An insect expert in Finland says the exceptionally hot summer has taken its toll on the Nordic country’s mosquito population and they have all but vanished from some areas, particularly so in the Lapland area in the Arctic north.
Dr. Jukka Salmela from the Provincial Museum of Lapland told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the typical breeding grounds for mosquitoes such as shallow ponds and other damp areas have dried up in the heat wave, resulting in fewer of them flying around.
Finland has experienced one of its hottest and driest summers on record with no rain in weeks and temperatures reaching up to 33 C (91 F) in several places. Over a third of the country’s surface extends above the Arctic Circle where high temperatures have been recorded as well.
Salmela said the disappearance of the blood-sucking insects, seen by most people as a major nuisance, has made it more pleasant to visit Lapland which is notorious for mosquito infestations from late June until August.
Salmela said that around 40 different mosquito types exist in Finland.
A county near Norway’s capital has beaten a 71-year-old record of consecutive days with temperatures above 25 C (77 F).
Norway’s meteorological institute says the previous record for Buskerud county, west of Oslo, was 62 days in row in 1947. The record was beaten on Monday, and Wednesday marked the 65th straight day of temperatures above 25 C.
The Nordic countries have had unusually hot weather in the past few weeks with Sweden seeing dozens of wildfires, mostly in the central, western and northern parts of the country. The fires have died down, but authorities remain vigilant.
The institute said Wednesday that the first nightly temperatures below freezing have been recorded in Cuovddatmohkki, in the Arctic Finnmark county, near the border with Russia. It dropped to -0.4 C (31.28 F).
Emergency services in Portugal are struggling for a sixth day to contain a major wildfire blackening hills in the country’s southern Algarve region.
The Civil Protection Agency said Wednesday that almost 2,000 firefighters from across Portugal were deployed at the blaze, the highest number yet.
They were supported by six aircraft and more than 380 vehicles.
After recent torrid weather, temperatures were getting back to normal, with 31 C (88 F) forecast for the Algarve.
Gusting winds have made the battle more difficult, though firefighters working in the night managed to stop one front reaching the town of Silves, a popular tourist spot and home to about 6,000 people.
High clouds of black smoke have towered over Portugal’s Algarve region, which is a top European vacation destination.