‘Red alert’ heatwave for Britain, 47 degrees forecast for cities in Europe, fires in France, Portugal, Spain

“Here in the UK we’re used to treating a hot spell as a chance to go and play in the sun. This is not that sort of weather. Our lifestyles and our infrastructure are not adapted to what is coming.”

Temperatures of 41 degrees are forecast at Heathrow Airport, near London – more than two degrees higher than the current record of 38.7 degrees set at Cambridge in 2019. It is the first time 40 degrees has ever been forecast.

Firefighters take a break after battling a forest fire that flared anew in the village of Lagoa Parada, near Ansiao, central Portugal.Credit:AP

Government scientists are particularly worried about record temperatures forecast for Monday night (GMT), which means people will not get a respite from the daytime heat. The Met Office expects the previous record high minimum overnight temperature of 23.9 at Brighton in 1990 to be beaten.

The conditions have been likened to a 2003 heatwave in France, in which 14,000 mostly elderly people died, sparking warnings from the Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, to be wary of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, especially for older and medically vulnerable people.

The Met Office also warned of a “high risk” of heat-sensitive systems and equipment failing, leading to localise power outages and the loss of services such as water or mobile phone coverage.

People flock to the beach in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday.

People flock to the beach in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday.Credit:AP

The UK Health Security Agency issued its highest level alert, four, to health organisations, signifying a national emergency. It said the heat would be so extreme that even fit and healthy adults were at risk, urging people to moderate their behaviour to prevent “avoidable” deaths and reduce pressure on hospitals, including by not drinking alcohol.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS would be under intense pressure over the coming days, “with severe bed shortages, ambulance services severely stretched and several health systems around the country having to declare critical incidents”.

A red ruffed lemurs enjoys an ice block filled with fruit at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling, England, as temperatures soared across Britain.

A red ruffed lemurs enjoys an ice block filled with fruit at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling, England, as temperatures soared across Britain.Credit:PA/AP

The health department said it recognised ambulance services were under significant pressure, and it was working hand-in-hand with the NHS to reduce delays in handing patients over to hospitals and getting ambulances back on the road.

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Cabinet minister Kit Malthouse, who chaired a meeting of the civil contingencies committee – known as COBRA – said the government was preparing for a “surge” in demand on the NHS and other services due to demand levels not usually seen outside winter months.

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