France put on hot weather alert as heatwave reaches Europe

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Tourists drink and fill their bottle from a public fountain to refresh themselves during an unusually early summer heatwave on June 24, 2019 in Rome. (AFP)
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A woman walks her dog through a fountain installation in the French eastern city of Lyon on June 24, 2019 as temperatures soar to 35 degrees Celsius. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019
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France put on hot weather alert as heatwave reaches Europe

  • Rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are at particular risk in high temperatures

PARIS: The sunset had an orange glow. So did the extreme weather warning for Paris.
Meteorologists placed more than half of France, including around the capital, on alert for high temperatures Monday as a heatwave was expected to spread across continental Europe this week.
National weather agency Meteo France predicted the hot weather could produce temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Ft) across the country just as the summer tourist season shifts into high gear.
The French weather agency set the heat warning level at orange — the second-highest intensity on its four-level categorization system for potentially dangerous conditions requiring public “vigilance.”
In Paris, charity organizations patrolled the streets to provide homeless people with water, while local authorities organized air-conditioned public places where people could seek shelter from the heat.
French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, deciding it was too hot to study, ordered national exams taken by students heading to high school postponed from Thursday and Friday to next week.
International soccer federation FIFA could face implementing heat precautions at the Women’s World Cup, which France is hosting. The precautions include holding cooling breaks during matches and postponing games if the heat is too intense.
Women’s World Cup matches are scheduled every day this week, except Wednesday and Sunday. Luckily, most were set to be played at night.
France introduced a heat watch warning system after a long, deadly heatwave in August 2003. The highest temperatures in more than half a century eventually were estimated to have caused 15,000 heat-related deaths, many of older people left in city apartments and retirement homes without air conditioning.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that vigilance was the watchword for the week.
“As you know, at times like these, sick people, pregnant women, infants and elderly people are the most vulnerable. So we must be vigilant with them and have prevention measures in place in order to intervene as quickly as possible,” Macron said.
French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Monday that “everything is ready” in retirement homes, hospitals and transportation systems.
“Yet when people are fragile, even when everything is organized, there’s always a higher mortality rate,” she warned.
Meteorologists said hot winds from the Sahara Desert brought the scorching weather to Europe. Similar heat is expected in Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.
In Germany, temperatures above 40 degrees C are possible in some places on Wednesday, topping the country’s previous June record of 38.2 degrees Celsius (nearly 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit) set in Frankfurt in 1947.
Rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are at particular risk in high temperatures.
Parts of northeastern Germany are also at high risk for forest fires. Authorities in the eastern state of Brandenburg, which circles Berlin, say the risk of forest fires is at the highest level in the coming days.
Scientists say measurements show that heat waves in Europe are becoming more frequent.
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said “monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate.”
“This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas,” he added.
Dim Coumou, a scientist at the Free University of Amsterdam, said melting Arctic sea ice is also affecting atmospheric circulation, which in turn makes extreme heat more likely.
“Data analysis shows that the normally eastward traveling summer circulation of the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes has slowed down, including the Jet Stream,” he said. “This favors the buildup of hot and dry conditions over the continent, sometimes turning a few sunny days into dangerous heat waves.”


UN nuclear watchdog chief Amano has died, IAEA tell member states

Updated 36 min 17 sec ago
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UN nuclear watchdog chief Amano has died, IAEA tell member states

  • The 72-year-old Japanese had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009
  • Argentina's ambassador to the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, is running to succeed Amano, and diplomats say the agency's chief coordinator Cornel Feruta of Romania, effectively Amano's chief of staff, is likely to run

VIENNA: UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano has died, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday, just as he was preparing to step down because of an unspecified illness.
The 72-year-old Japanese had held the position of IAEA director general since 2009, taking over from Mohamed ElBaradei and steering the UN agency through a period of intense diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program.
He had been preparing to leave his position in March, well before the end of his third four-year term, which ran until Nov. 30, 2021.
The IAEA announced last September that Amano had undergone an unspecified medical procedure. The specific nature of his illness has remained a taboo subject within the agency, diplomats say, but with each public appearance he had appeared increasingly frail.
“The Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency regrets to inform with deepest sadness of the passing away of Director General Yukiya Amano,” the secretariat's note read.
The note did not lay out a timeframe for naming his successor, though a race to succeed him had been taking shape since last week, when it became clear he would step down early.
Argentina's ambassador to the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, is running to succeed Amano, and diplomats say the agency's chief coordinator Cornel Feruta of Romania, effectively Amano's chief of staff, is likely to run. Others could also enter the fray.