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European temperatures break century-old records

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A woman shelters herself from the sun outside the Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Italy  

Southeastern Europe not likely to get a break from deadly heat wave

July 7, 2000
Web posted at: 9:13 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT)

ZAGREB, Croatia -- Southeastern Europe remained in the clutches of a deadly Saharan heat wave on Friday, a scorching pocket of hot, dry air that has left scores dead and created conditions ripe for dozens of wildfires that have broken out across the Aegean, Adriatic and Mediterranean regions.

Four people died overnight in southern Turkey, where temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday and showed no signs of relenting over the weekend.

More than 100 people were hospitalized. Officials said the deaths were caused by heart attacks and brain hemorrhages brought on by the intense and unrelenting heat.

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Temperatures this week have broken century-old records across the region -- on the Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia, the temperature topped 48.9 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier in the week, while on Thursday the mercury reached as high as 44.4 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in Croatia, where as many as 40 people have died in the past week.

Forecasters said Friday's temperatures would be moderately cooler in some parts of the region, but no real break in the oppressive weather could be expected before the beginning of next week.

Health officials in Belgrade, Yugoslavia -- where midday temperatures approach 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) -- warn residents to wear light clothing, stay home during the hottest hours of the day, and drink as much as possible -- not an easy task in some neighborhoods.

Water is a huge problem -- there isn't enough of it in some areas and the city's aging equipment isn't up to pumping what little there is to more hilly sections of town.

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Albanians seeking relief from a scorching heat wave cool down Thursday in Tirana's Skanderbeg Square  

"When the water trucks arrive, it is very difficult for our entire neighborhood to get enough water supplies," said one woman. "Sometimes they even bring dirty water which is not drinkable."

A local priest allows his neighbors to draw water from his well, but that, too, is inadequate.

"They have announced rationing of water, but many times we are left without water at all," he said. "I have a feeling that the rationing is not done properly because some people always have water, and we never do."

Crops are also suffering in the Balkans. Yugoslav meteorologist Caslav Stanojevic, though, said the problem in the fields began earlier in the year.

"The main problem for crops this year was at the end of this spring, because the weather was similar to what we have now," he said. "Crops need cool weather and some rain, which we did not have."

CNN Belgrade Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
High temperatures sear southeastern Europe
July 6, 2000
Southeast Europe scorched as heat wave reaches record highs temperatures
July 5, 2000

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