Tuesday, June 26, 2007

AP: 4 More Dead in European Heat Wave

Southeastern Europe continued to sizzle under an intense heat wave Monday, with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit leading to the deaths of four people in Greece and Cyprus and sparking two dozen forest fires in Italy.

Temperatures in the southern Italian city of Bari reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Sicilian capital of Palermo hit 108 degrees and parts of Greece topped out at 107 degrees.

The Greek Health Ministry said three pensioners aged 76, 84 and 103 died of medical conditions aggravated by heat stroke. In Cyprus, a 72-year-old woman died of heatstroke as temperatures there reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nearly 30 people were reported killed in Romania, Serbia and Albania last week because of the heat wave, officials said.

Italian officials said the high temperatures and strong winds had started 25 blazes Monday on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, as well as in the southern part of the mainland. A forest fire had also broken out north of Athens in Greece.

In the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, Turkey, authorities were banning people from entering the forests to avoid possible fires, CNN-Turk television reported.

Farming officials, meanwhile, warned that Sicily's lemons were literally baking in the heat and that farmers were being forced to harvest them unusually early to save them.

Greek electricity consumption exceeded 10,000 megawatts to hit a record high Monday, causing limited power outages in the Athens area and other parts of the country.

Temperatures were expected to remain well above normal until Wednesday, forecasters said.

Associated Press reporters in Cyprus, Italy and Turkey contributed to this report.

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