CALIFORNIA, US: Scorching weather clutches the globe on Sunday, causing wildfires and threatening to topple temperature records as the dire consequences of global warming take shape. Predictions of historic heat hung over large area of Asia, Europe and the United States.
In the Vatican, 15,000 people braved sweltering temperatures to hear Pope Francis lead prayer, using parasols and fans to keep cool”.
In Japan, authorities issued heatstroke alerts to tens of millions of people in 20 of its 47 prefectures as near-record high temperatures scorched large areas and torrential rain pummelled other regions. National broadcaster NHK warned the heat was life-threatening, with the capital and other places recording nearly 40 degrees Celsius.
Japan’s highest temperature ever — 41.1°C first recorded in Kumagaya city, Saitama, in 2018 — could be beaten, according to the meteorological agency.
The United States National Weather Service reported that a powerful heatwave stretching from California to Texas was expected to peak during an “extremely hot and dangerous weekend”.
California’s Death Valley is also likely to register new peaks on Sunday, with the mercury possibly surpassing 54°C. At a Texas construction site outside Houston, a 28-year-old worker who gave his name only as Juan struggled in the blazing heat.
Southern California is fighting numerous wildfires, including one in Riverside County that has burned more than 7,500 acres and prompted evacuation orders.
The Canadian government said wildfires had burned a record-breaking 10 million hectares this year, with more damage expected as the summer drags on.
In Europe, Italians were warned to prepare for “the most intense heatwave of the summer and also one of the most intense of all time”.
Predictions of historic highs in the coming days led the health ministry to sound a red alert for 16 cities including Rome, Bologna and Florence. Temperatures are likely to hit 40°C in Rome by Monday and 42°C-43°C on Tuesday, smashing the record of 40.5°C set in August 2007.
The Acropolis in Athens, one of Greece’s top tourist attractions, closed for a third day running on Sunday during the hottest hours. In Romania, temperatures are expected to reach 39°C on Monday across most of the country.