Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Eastern Europe wilts in heatwave

Bosnians seek refreshment under artificial waterfalls as a heatwave hits Eastern Europe (AP)
Bosnians seek refreshment under artificial waterfalls as a heatwave hits Eastern Europe (AP)
A man dives at sunset in a lake at the end of an unusually hot day in Bucharest, Romania (AP)

Overheated people fainted in the streets, wildfires burned out of control and polar bears got extra frozen fish as authorities across the Balkans issued an emergency heat alert.

Officials in Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Albania and Hungary sounded an "orange" heat warning as temperatures soared for people to stay indoors and drink water to avoid hyperthermia.

Doctors in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, said emergency teams made more than 100 interventions on Thursday, with residents feeling sick from the heat.

"People are collapsing and falling in the streets," said emergency clinic doctor Zeljko Bacevic.

One of the hottest spots was Montenegro, where authorities recommended that working hours be cut to skip the extensive heat. Temperatures in capital of Podgorica reached 41C on Thursday, capping one of the longest hot periods in the tiny Adriatic Sea nation in 50 years.

In Macedonia, authorities warned people above 60 and pregnant women not to go to work. In Bosnia and Serbia, unions urged construction companies to pull employees from open air work sites.

In the central Bosnian city of Mostar, temperatures soared to 45C for the second day running. Kids jumped on melting asphalt, leaving footprints in the streets. "The only way to deal with this is in the river," said Mostar high school student Semir Hebib. "I sleep on my balcony and in the morning I go and sit next to or in the Neretva river till the evening."

Zookeepers in Hungary's capital of Budapest cooled polar bears with ice and cold water to protect them as some areas of the country hit 40C, breaking a record set in 1943. Hella the elephant was also sprayed with cold water.

In southern Bosnia, many people were suffering from stomach infections due to the heat, while authorities in the Romanian capital of Bucharest put up 14 First Aid tents to offer some relief.

Montenegro, Bosnia and Albania were fighting several wildfires near their capitals and along the Adriatic Sea coastline, but no major injuries or damages were reported.

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