Three dead as ‘Sahara plume’ heatwave over Europe brings dangers

Forecasters warn of a “threat to life” as unprecedented intense heatwave covers Europe

Three people have died in France after a heatwave brought exceptionally high temperatures from the Sahara covered much of Europe.

Reports suggest that the deaths occurred separately but all occurred near beaches on the south coast of the country.

A 70-year-old man is believed to have suffered a heart attack after coming into contact with cold water, while a 62-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man died in separate locations by the sea.

Authorities have warned people of the dangers of taking a dip in cold waters during the heatwave, when the shock of a plunge in temperature can cause “hydrocution”.

Paris closed schools on Wednesday and extended the opening times of swimming pools and public parks.

French meteorologists have issued a warning that the heatwave poses a threat to life, with temperatures expected to push above 40°C over the weekend.

June temperatures average 24°C in Paris, 22°C in Berlin and 21°C in London. By comparison, June temperatures average 33°C in Abu Dhabi, although high humidity is a major factor contributing to an intense heat rarely found in Europe for prolonged periods.

Record-breaking June temperatures are set to be reached in many parts of Europe, including Germany, France, Spain and parts of Central Europe.

One German region imposed temporary speed limits on some stretches of the autobahn (motorway) as a precaution against heat damage.

Paris has taken similar precautions, banning older vehicles from entering the city for the day to limit air pollution.

A plume of hot air from the Sahara Desert has been blown from Africa and is covering much of Europe.

One Spanish forecaster dubbed a map of Spain, covered in the deepest red heat spots, as “hell”.

While hot summers are common in Mediterranean countries in southern Europe, the intensity of the heat this year is unusual.