Members of the 'Australian cabaret and Circus troupe cool down in a fountain on the Southbank in London. AFP
The World Health Organisation's (WHO) European office on Friday said the heatwave baking Europe has caused over 1,700 deaths on the Iberian peninsula alone, calling for joint action to tackle climate change.
"Heat kills. Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of extreme heat during extended heatwaves, often with simultaneous wildfires," WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement.
"This year, we have already witnessed more than 1,700 needless deaths in the present heatwave in Spain and Portugal alone," Kluge added.
The regional director stressed that exposure to extreme heat "often exacerbates pre-existing health conditions" and noted that "individuals at either end of life's spectrum - infants and children, and older people - are at particular risk."
Responding to a query, WHO Europe explained that the figure is a preliminary estimate based on reports by national authorities, and that the toll had "already increased and will increase further over the coming days."
The true number of deaths linked to the heatwave won't be known for weeks, he said, adding "this scorching summer season is barely halfway done." "Ultimately, this week's events point yet again to the desperate need for pan-European action to effectively tackle climate change," Kluge said.
The regional head of the UN health body said governments need to demonstrate will and leadership in implementing the Paris Agreement, which set the goal of limiting end-of-century warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - and preferably not beyond 1.5°C.
He said that members of the WHO's European region - 53 countries and regions including several in Central Asia - "have already demonstrated that they can work together on urgent threats to global health," and that it was "time for us to do so again."
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday called on office workers to throw sartorial caution to the wind and ditch their ties amid scorching summer temperatures.
Spain was gripped by a heatwave affecting much of Western Europe, which pushed temperatures as high as 45˚C in some regions last week, sparking dozens of wildfires.
Local police said on Saturday afternoon they had evacuated over 450 people from two hotels and 92 houses and that 60 officers were scouring the area for anyone that refused to move.
More than 1,000 firefighters, backed by water-bombing planes, battled for a third day a fire that has forced thousands from their homes and scorched thousands of hectares of forest in France's southwestern Gironde region.
The mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, told AFP that around 5,000 people who fled border villages have registered with city authorities, with several hundred in temporary housing.
A default would have likely triggered market panic, huge job losses and a recession, with global implications.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid also dispatched a message of condolence to Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the victims of the train collision