'Heat storm' hits Italy

Photo: ansa.it
ROME. KAZINFORM After enduring two major heatwaves, Italy was faced on Sunday with what the iLMeteo.it weather website has described as a «heat storm», with exceptionally high temperatures and humidity rates, especially in central and southern regions, Kazinform learned from ANSA.

On Sunday the number of major Italian cities that the health ministry has put on red alert, meaning that the heat is so intense it poses a threat to the whole population, not just groups such as the elderly, the clinically vulnerable and very young children, climbed from 15 to 16.

They are Bologna, Campobasso, Florence, Frosinone, Latina, Perugia, Pescara, Rieti, Rome, Viterbo. Bari, Cagliari, Catania, Civitavecchia, Messina and Palermo, Sunday's new entry.

Temperatures are forecast to climb as high as 47° Celsius in areas of southern Sardinia, 45 or 46° in Sicily and 45° in the province of Foggia, in Puglia.

In Rome, which The Times has called «The Infernal City» because of the heat it is suffering, temperatures are expected to reach 37° on Sunday and climb to 42 or 43° on Tuesday.

iLMeteo.it Founder Antonio Sanò said temperatures of over 30° may last until up to midnight in some cases.

Sleeping is a problem, with temperatures not going below 20° during the night.

Indeed, unrest at Ravenna prison overnight was caused by the extreme heat, which made it impossible for inmates to sleep, prison guards union Sappe said on Sunday.

Two prisoners set fire to their beds in protest and tried to force the door of their cell, the union said.

Their protest won the support of other inmates and a major operation by the guards was needed to restore order, Sappe said.

Health Minister Orazio Schillaci has reiterated his call for the public to take the necessary precautions regarding the heat and said the government may impose restrictions to reduce risks.

When asked about Athens' decision to close the Acropolis in the hottest hours of the day, Schillaci told daily newspaper Il Messaggero that «we are monitoring the situation hour by hour, following the development of the temperatures for the coming days.» «If necessary, we will consider taking some measures with the other competent ministers,«he added. Big gatherings in open-air places with particularly high temperatures should be discouraged in the hottest hours of the day.

«It is not advisable to go to the Colosseum when it's 43°C, above all for an elderly person».

He said it was necessary for people to follow the health ministry's heat guidelines to stop the nation's hospitals being overwhelmed.

«You can protect yourself against the heat in a major way by drinking lots of water, opting for a diet based on vegetables and fresh fruit and avoiding excessive consumption of fatty foods and alcohol,» Schillaci said.

«Special attention should be paid to the most fragile, the elderly and children» On Thursday the European Space Agency, which monitors and analyses weather patterns thanks to data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, said air temperatures could climb to 48°C on Sicily and Sardinia in the coming days, potentially reaching the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.

The highest temperature in European history was set on 11 August 2021 with a temperature of 48.8°C was recorded in Floridia, a town in the Sicilian province of Syracuse.

A study coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and published in the Nature Medicine journal this week estimated that over 18,000 people died in Italy due to the intense heat the nation endured last summer.

Scientists say the climate crisis caused by human greenhouse gas emissions is making extreme weather events such as heat waves, drought, supercharged storms and flooding more frequent and more intense.

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