Over 1,700 deaths in Spain, Portugal due to wildfires, record-high temperatures, toll rising: WHO

Copenhagen, Denmark Updated: Jul 23, 2022, 10:47 AM(IST)

Flames rise from a forest fire near the village of Pumarejo, northern Spain, on July 18, 2022. Photograph:( AFP )

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In most European countries, people are experiencing extremely hot weather with temperatures reaching record levels 

The heatwave has caused over 1,700 deaths on the Iberian peninsula alone, the World Health Organization’s European office said on Friday (July 22). The Iberian Peninsula is a mountainous region that is most associated with Spain and Portugal. 

Not just in Spain and Portugal, the unprecedented heatwave has caused death and destruction across Europe. “Heat kills. Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of extreme heat during extended heatwaves, often with simultaneous wildfires,” WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement. 

“This year, we have already witnessed more than 1,700 needless deaths in the present heatwave in Spain and Portugal alone,” Kluge added. 

As quoted by the news agency AFP, the regional director further added that exposure to extreme heat “often exacerbates pre-existing health conditions”. The official added that “individuals at either end of life’s spectrum – infants and children, and older people – are at particular risk”. 

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In most European countries, people are experiencing extremely hot weather with temperatures reaching record levels. This straightaway draws attention to the impact of global warming as millions of people struggle in the catastrophic, record-shattering heat. 

WHO Europe stated that the available data is a preliminary estimate based on reports by national authorities. It said that the toll had ”already increased and will increase further over the coming days”. 

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