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London temperature record smashed

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The London Eye was closed for "customers' comfort."

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Londoners experienced the hottest day in the city's history on Wednesday as the temperature hit 35.9C (96.6F).

The city's famous London Eye observation wheel was closed to passengers as temperatures inside the capsules rose to nearly 30C.

A spokeswoman said that air conditioning in the capsules was working fine but it was still too hot and the tourist attraction was closed for "customers' comfort."

The previous record for the capital was 35C (95F), set in August 1990.

The temperature -- also the highest recorded in the UK this year -- was taken at 1500 GMT on the roof of the London Weather Centre in central London.

Travellers on the capital's ageing Underground network were faced with temperatures well above 30C (86F) inside train carriages. City Mayor Ken Livingstone is offering a 100,000 ($160,000) prize to anyone who comes up with a way of cooling the network down.

The record for the hottest ever day in Britain -- 37.1C (98.8F) set in Cheltenham in 1990 -- should remain intact on Wednesday but experts say it could be broken later this week.

The heat wave claimed its first lives in Britain as two 17-year-old boys drowned in separate accidents.

And train travellers faced a third successive day of delays and cancellations as the heatwave led to more train speed restrictions on the rail network.

Speed limits were cut to 60 mph (100 km/h) from the more usual 90-120 mph and could go even lower.

Animals are also feeling the effects of the heat wave.

At the London Zoo, staff have been giving ice lollies with rosemary to the tigers to help cool them down -- a standard practice during hot summer days. Monkeys and bears are being fed fruit lollies.

On the roads, drivers were warned by the AA to look out for the danger of melting carriageways.


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